The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.
Does a parent’s posting habits on Facebook really change the way they interact with their kids? A new study finds parents who tend to post tons of pictures of their children on social media often have a more friend-like parenting style in general. A team from the University of Central Florida says they prefer to be more of a buddy to their children instead of an authority figure. In many cases, these parents also allow their kids to start using social media at an earlier age.
On a more detailed level, the study authors explain that social media savvy parents usually have more permissive and confident parenting styles, allowing their kids to interact with social media themselves at younger ages. Moreover, social media-centric parents also frequently post pictures of their kids in areas outside of personal online circles of friends or followers. These images, posted to public social media groups and forums, potentially raise some serious privacy and safety concerns.
Finally, parents who love posting pictures of their families on social media typically don’t see their online activity as anything out of the ordinary and rarely if ever ask their children for permission.
“There is no doubt that many parents are very careful regarding what they share online about their children,” says co-researcher Mary Jean Amon, an assistant professor in the School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training (SMST) at UCF, in a university release. “And there are significant benefits to sharing photos with grandparents and groups who can offer support and help keep families connected. But we need to be aware of some of the privacy issues when sharing children’s information online and conduct further research to figure out long-term impacts. This is all still so new. We’re still learning.”
A team of scientists from both UCF and the Indiana University Bloomington polled 493 parents habitually using social media while raising at least one child under the age of 10.
“We were interested in looking at what parents consider private when it comes to sharing young children’s information online and the perceived risks,” Prof. Amon continues. “We were surprised. Contrary to previous research that highlights the significant benefits of parental sharing, our study reveals that such sharing of children’s photos is associated with permissive parenting styles.”
Generally, most parents who took the surveys told researchers they are comfortable posting pictures of their children on social media.
It’s especially interesting to note that parents didn’t seem to recognize all that much of a difference between exchanging photos with a friend or loved one privately and posting images to social media. Researchers say this suggests a troubling number of parents are underestimating just how risky it can be to both post images of their kids online publicly and allow a young child to start browsing social media themselves at an inappropriate age.
This research was published by the Association for Computing Machinery: Computer Supported Cooperative Work.