Home Cyberpsychology & Technology Mothers with More Instagram Followers Engage in Higher Levels of “Sharenting”; Risking Children’s Privacy

Mothers with More Instagram Followers Engage in Higher Levels of “Sharenting”; Risking Children’s Privacy

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A recent study published in Pediatrics International reveals that the number of Instagram followers a mother has can significantly impact her sharenting behaviour, raising concerns about privacy and child safety.

The phenomenon of “sharenting”, where parents share extensive information about their children on social media, has been growing rapidly. The study conducted by Orhan Kiliç and colleagues at Baskent University Faculty of Medicine in Ankara, Turkey, examined the relationship between the Instagram follower counts of mothers and their propensity to share photos of their children. This research sheds light on how social media popularity might drive behaviours that compromise children’s privacy and safety.

The cross-sectional study involved 130 mothers who had Instagram accounts and were willing to be followed by the researchers. These mothers, who visited a university hospital for their children’s paediatric care, completed an online questionnaire detailing their social media use and sociodemographic data. Researchers created a new Instagram account to analyse the mothers’ sharing practices directly from their profiles. The number of followers was categorised into four quartiles to assess the relationship between follower count and sharenting behaviours.

The study’s findings indicated a clear correlation between the number of Instagram followers a mother has and the frequency and nature of her sharenting practices. Mothers with higher follower counts were more likely to share more photos, including those that reveal personal identity information or violate the child’s privacy.

Mothers in the highest follower quartile (more than 470 followers) shared significantly more photos of their children compared to those in the lowest quartile (7–189 followers). On average, these high-follower mothers posted 72.6 photos per year, while those in the lowest quartile posted 15.4 photos annually.

The study found that mothers with more followers were more likely to share photos that infringed on their children’s privacy. This included images showing children alone, engaged in play, or in potentially compromising situations such as during bath time. Additionally, these mothers were more prone to disclose their children’s personal identity information, such as names and addresses.

The practice of sharenting raises significant legal and ethical concerns. Sharing children’s photos without their consent can lead to privacy violations and potential legal problems. Some children have expressed discomfort with their parents sharing their images online, highlighting the need for parents to seek consent before posting such content .

Previous research cited in the study suggests that social media platforms, like Instagram, provide a medium for parents to showcase their parenting roles and derive social validation. This can drive mothers to share more frequently and more intimately, often without considering the long-term implications for their children’s privacy .

Another dimension explored by the study is the relationship between follower count and consumer behaviour. Mothers with higher follower counts showed a higher propensity to purchase products promoted on Instagram. This suggests that social media influencers among parents might also engage in sharenting as part of their marketing strategies.

The study underscores the need for increased awareness among parents about the potential risks associated with sharenting. Healthcare professionals are advised to discuss social media usage and follower count with parents during well-child visits. This can help in raising awareness and potentially preventing the overexposure of children’s digital presence.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd