Culture Post: How Parents Sharing Too Many Pictures Online Are Putting Their Kids at Risk

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.

Many parents enjoy posting pictures of their children on social media, but researchers from West Virginia University are warning moms and dads to think twice before sharing images of their kids. Playfully nicknamed “sharenting,” posting pictures online may seem like a fun and easy way to show off your family’s best moments, but the study cautions that it’s important to understand the risks as well.

According to Laurel Cook, associate marketing professor at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, sharenting is a much more serious and widespread problem than most parents realize. When someone posts an image online, it’s available for countless people to see and scrutinize. Besides just the consent and privacy questions this raises, it also could leave kids vulnerable to online predators.

There’s the biological component of social media to consider as well. Positive online social interactions, including comments and “likes,” often trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine provokes feelings of reward, consequently reinforcing social media tendencies. The more likes parents receive on images of their children, the more likely they are to keep posting.

“Much of the fodder for pedophiles is not manufactured,” Cook notes. “It comes from parents, from these public posts.”

Prof. Cook recommends never posting anything too personal. Photos of events like a birthday party can be shared after the fact, and parents should absolutely never mention specific dates, times, or locations.

It’s also imperative that parents understand both social media platforms and third-party websites collect data on users. This data includes “sharented” content which can be used to track personally identifiable information. This type of data collection can begin before a child is even born, forming a “digital footprint” that will follow the child their entire life.

“A lot more people have access to information about a minor than I think the world knows,” Prof. Cook states.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

Source: StudyFinds

Find more culture news on HomeWord’s Culture Blog, named in 2022 for the seventh consecutive year, as one of the top 50 culture blogs on the planet!

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)