If you tweet, share photos and post your children’s milestones on Facebook, then you are ‘sharenting’
Aman was born in March 2013. Nine-months old, he has an active fan following on his mother’s Facebook page. There is a new trend called ‘Sharenting’. Urban Dictionary calls it a combination of two words: parenting and sharing, and defines it thus: “When parents share too much of their children’s information, pictures and private moments online, mostly on Facebook.”
Aman’s parents, both writers, felt their new family needed time to settle down, in private. So, his mother Manidipa created an online album on Facebook meant just for friends and family who could track the baby’s progress. She says: “For me, it was a modern version of the traditional ‘40 days of confinement’. We are a nuclear family and have no outside help. Plus, I had a C-Section. We just wanted time to be together. But Facebook ensured the extended family got to see the baby, virtually.”
London-based Smitha Namboodiri, mother of a pre-schooler, did something similar in the first year of her daughter’s life. She created an album for friends so that those back home could see Megha smile, stand and eat her first meal. Both Smitha and Manidipa however ensure that they put enough privacy settings so that their child’s safety is never compromised.
“I did not realise it before, but this became a project of documenting his life. Any delay in posting photographs, and my friends and family call up to ask why. That pushes me to select my son’s precious moments and upload them without postponing it.” Manidipa says she will do this till her son is old enough to have his own opinion and decides he doesn’t want her to continue to do it.
Smitha used to post an average of 10 photographs a month of Megha, but of late, she’s not posting so much online due to privacy worries. The sharing has not stopped, though. She shares files with chosen people on websites such as Picasa. “Since we were abroad when Megha was born, we missed the attention of our family, relatives and friends who would have been genuinely pleased to see her grow up. Sending mails to each one of them seemed tedious. Posting online was an easy way to accomplish this. The caring feedback was a bonus.” Manidipa says that though her son has not had too many visitors, he has a community of well-wishers who care about him. “Through the album, I bring them to him, and take him to them,” she says. Adds Smitha: “Everyone is familiar with what Megha looks like. When I come to India, no one feels like they don’t know her. It’s a seamless transition.”