Monday, 20 May 2013

Am I a Grandsharent?

There’s an old chestnut that pops up regularly in conversations between parents of young families. It’s the one where doubts and fears are raised over how much information about children should be shared on social media platforms.


You won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a name for those parents who regularly post pics and updates relating to their offspring. They are “sharents”  - a fairly unimaginative term from the same stable as “kidult” – and they’re probably here to stay.

When our daughter was born, we decided that her spiritual security was a personal matter for her to think about, so we never had her Christened. It’s never entered our heads to persuade her one way or the other with regard to politics, either. Some things can’t be decided for you. You reach a point in your life when the big issues, like personal privacy, faith, and political ideology, gain weight...or not.

I feel much the same about the information I share here, about my grandchildren. Proud though I am, and love them as I do, the rule was established from the beginning that I wouldn't share photographs that clearly identify them, or reveal their actual names. This isn’t to say that others are wrong to do so, or that I believe they might be in peril if readers knew their identities. It’s a matter for the individual to consider, a question of choice. A kind of privacy by proxy, if you like. And, I hear the argument that unless we take the Michael Jackson route, and insist on our children wearing masks in public, the world at large will come to know our children and grandchildren, anyway. But it will be in the real world, as opposed to the ever expanding virtual kind.

There are still parents and grandparents who feel much more confident about protecting children off-line, and I can understand that. What do you think?

18 comments:

  1. I think you hit a good and well-reasoned balance. Love the photo. It's about the spirit captured in the composition. Seeing the faces is not required.

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  2. Yes jolly good pic Martin

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    1. Thanks, Rog. As English Rider says, "It's about the spirit captured in the composition."

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  3. I think you have it about right, Martin, with regard to privacy. Interesting that you didn't have your daughter Christened - we didn't have any of ours Christened for much the same reason. And I love photos like yours which give a real sense of life and fun without identifying the children :-) x

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    1. Teresa, thanks. I try to strike a balance. It's great to share snippets from the lives of SW and her sisters. Something I feel I can still do with some success, without giving away too much.

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    2. I do show the faces of my grandchildren in my photos, but I don't identify them. Yes, there are many wonderfully artistic photos, like yours, that work without showing faces. Still, as humans we are programmed to look to the face to tell the story, and in many award-winning photos, it's the face that makes the photo.

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    3. Susan, I agree that faces and expressions play an important role in the way we communicate and develop perspectives/opinions at a personal level. There are complex psychosocial strands to this debate, which I'm far from qualified to talk about, but that doesn't make it any less fascinating. As social media continues to evolve, I'm sure we'll become much more adept at exploiting it while taking the greatest care to protect ourselves and those we love.

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  4. As you may have noticed I have never named my children or grandchildren in my blog ( I didn't have my children christened either). I do show my grandchildren's faces because my son is happy for me to do so.

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    1. I have noticed that, Nell. Which proves it is possible to strike a happy medium, with care and consent. As a family, we've discussed the pros and cons of showing our grandchildren's faces, and although we all agree that the risks to them are infinitesimal, my personal preference is to wait a little longer.

      Actually, this discussion is an extension of the argument for or against parents taking photographs at school events. Certainly, the Sepia Saturdays would be all the poorer if cameras had been banned from recording a child's big day in years gone by!

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  5. It's a very important point, and I think the key thing is that the child have some say in the matter. As you know, I have pseudonyms for my children on my blog. I always check with them about posting photographs online. My daughter has her own online presence now, and we often have detailed discussions about how much detail to put on various social media websites. She is very sensible, and in fact has been very protective of me when I have met up with people I've only met online before.

    I think you do a perfect job of sharing the joys of your grandchildren with us, while protecting their privacy. (So, in answer to your question, no, you're not.) Other people are happy to share more information, and that's fine too.

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    1. Thanks, Christine. The privacy thing is certainly something I'm very mindful of, but as you so rightly say in your closing sentence, "Other people are happy to share more information, and that's fine too."

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  6. I don't use any other social media to share my granddaughter. BUT I do use her name and lots of pictures of her on her/my blog -- it is named after her. I began the blog as a way to share her stories and pictures with our family back east and along the way made a few amazing friends who are also grandparents. I do this with her parents complete approval. I am careful to always Photoshop out the name of her school and I only post photos of her friends with the parents permission. I certainly share a lot less on her blog then they do on Facebook!

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    1. I think the key consideration when dealing with this question Grandma Kc, is that as long as all parties concerned are relaxed about sharing, then it's perfectly fine.

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  7. I read the article in the Guardian about parents humblebragging about their children and showing them from the day of conception almost.

    I don’t like it. Not only am I personally no longer interested but I also feel that the children won’t be thanking their parents when they grow up. Keep their identity private, and never ever embarrass them.

    Now, a nice, discreet grandad is an entirely other matter . . . .

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    1. Friko, you say the nicest things. Hey, that article didn't sit well with me either.

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  8. Hi Martin,

    I don't name my son in my blog and I use generic photos or ones where he isn't clearly identifiable. When he is old enough to express a preference for how he is portrayed I'll ask him.

    We have chosen to raise him with the two different cultures of mine and my husband's family and his name is an amalgamation of both (and therefore unusual).

    I cannot, however, control how other family members share his image and for some reason they don't ask before using photos of him on public pages on facebook or elsewhere. It's a bit annoying really.

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    1. I think we're singing from the same song-sheet, Swazi. As you say, controlling the way friends and family use the photographs isn't simple.

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