When my son was born last November, I was very conscious that he had arrived into an era very different to that of his elder sister, even though they are only a few years apart. That difference was social media.
So while I could announce my daughter’s birth in 2005 by email, and host some photos on specialised websites, that was the extent of her early digital footprint. Fast forward to 2012 and I kept on thinking about the fact that I was now having a Facebook baby, with scan pictures just the start of the tumult I subsequently unleashed.
Given that I had commented many times on this difference, I should probably have recognised with my Wordability hat on that this new concept would inevitably require a new word. But now that it has come along, I find that I don’t like the term Sharenting at all.
It’s a clever coinage, and actually encapsulates the meaning well – parenting and sharing at the same time. But I can’t help feeling there is something pejorative about it, something slightly sneery. People like to criticise others for the way that they parent, and you could easily imagine somebody gossipping about those who are sharenting as if it is some kind of fault.
I’m also not convinced anybody will really use it conversation. It is a great word for journalists and the media to use to discuss the phenomenon, but as for the rest of us, I suspect we will just note that people are sharing information about their offspring on social media in much the same way they used to share information, albeit not as quickly and not with as wide a circle. People have always shown off pictures, boasted about achievements and nattered to anyone who will listen about how their children are doing. Social networks simply allow people to do what they have always done, just on a quicker and larger scale.
Sharenting as a concept is going nowhere, and I suspect the word is here to stay. It’s just I don’t think you will hear many people saying it.