I'm guilty of "sharenting" and even oversharenting, too. The term was first used by the Wall Street Journal back in 2013 and combines oversharing with parenting. Typically, oversharenters tend to be 35+ years of age, share pictures of more than just milestones in their children's lives, and are comfortable sharing all aspects of their lives online.
With friends and relatives living in different parts of the country - and even across the planet - social media helps families stay connected with pictures, comments, cute stories, and even hiccups of childhood memories. Ella's first steps, Jackson's first tooth, and Ben's first time riding a bicycle can all be captured and quickly shared worldwide before these three children have even seen the picture played back. One parent could be at the park and take an adorable picture of the kids on the swings and share it with the other parent who might be at work, traveling on business, or just be home cooking dinner.
Sharenting can create competition. A mom may see another mom's picture of her kid who is the same age as her little Tommy and wonder, "Hmm, why isn't Tommy able to sit up/crawl/walk/ride a bike yet? Should we be able to do that by now?" How many of us have the Elf on the Shelf and wonder how some of these creative parents have time and energy to have Jingle get so mischievous during the month of December? Do you know a mom who posts pictures of her kids' school lunches and quietly twinge inside when you compare how healthy her kids are eating and how unhealthy your kids are eating?
Sharenting can also create jealousy. The Jones may post pictures of their kids jumping in the ocean on their fabulous vacations and countless cruises, making the Millers wonder why they aren't on vacation as often (or why little Tommy hasn't mastered his swim lessons yet). You may think your friend has an awesome new smartphone; maybe you should get a similar one now that it's available.
Sharenting can also solve problems. I've personally received incredible been-there-done-that advice from seasoned moms on social media. What I think is an unexplained rash has been seen lots of times by other moms and one pic on FB can answer questions I might not have even thought of. There is a sense of community in many on-line forums that allows parents to share their concerns and thoughts about their children. I've attended benefit events for children I have never met - simply because I know their moms from my online groups and feel close to them enough to help with their needs.
So, what do the experts say? The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA, 1998) limits the collection and/or release of information online before a child turns 13. However, sometimes parents may have already shared tremendous amounts of information on their own social media or internet locations. Change settings so that only select few of your FB friends or followers can see the information that you deem appropriate. Some families create private (or even secret) groups to pinpoint the audiences as they wish. Other families set up a google alert with their child's name so they can be notified if/when something looks suspicious. It is important that every parent finds their own balance for their families.
Additional support can be found at mypermissions.org and Adjustyourprivacy.com.