In 2016 the Collins Dictionary unveiled its words of the year. Alongside Trumpism and Brexit was sharenting.

Collins classifies sharenting as: ‘the habitual use of social media to share news, images etc of one’s children’.  

What does sharenting mean?

A mix of sharing and parenting, sharenting (or oversharenting) is a feature of modern parenting, as increasing numbers of parents share photos and videos of their children on social media.

Even if you don’t have children, you’ve probably got social media friends who continually post about their kids, their birthdays, trips taken, first walk, sporting achievements.

Sharing a few photos on social media seems fairly harmless, but documenting every stage of their life can be incredibly tedious for your followers and can have more serious consequences, which you can check out below.

For more advice and tips about keeping your children safe online visit Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to e-safety.

What are the dangers of sharenting?

Right to privacy: By sharenting you are revealing aspects of your child’s life to your social media followers, yet your son or daughter has no say in this.

They may be too young to fully understand, but you are taking away their right to privacy – which as a parent you should be protecting.

Embarrassment, hurt and bullying:  You might post a picture of your child with a jokey caption, relating to their hair or facial expression, which could upset them when they get older or could cause bullying from other children.

Online reputation:  Everything you post contributes to your online reputation, which is a record of photos, shared links and comments – a record that is hard to delete. When you post about your child you are shaping their online reputation.

As children get older and head out into the world of employment and education, what you’ve shared could affect their future prospects.  For instance a post on your Facebook wall about an argument with them could contribute to their negative online reputation.

[Read more: How to manage your child’s online reputation]

Online dangers: Revealing too much about your child’s life could have more serious consequences, if you don’t take care with your social network’s privacy settings.

Complete strangers could scroll through your Facebook feed and find out your child’s name, school, birthday and friends. Would you share this information with a stranger on the street? Of course not, but you might be unwittingly sharing with a predator online.

Tips for safe sharenting

Privacy settings: Check who can see your posts, make sure they aren’t public. Find out how to do this in our article: Facebook privacy – how much information are you giving away?

If you use Instagram considering making your account private.

Internet Matters has social networking safety guides aimed parents.

Think before sharing: Will this embarrass my child when they are older? Could other people laugh at them? Could this comment be misconstrued?  If you have any doubt, don’t share.

Restrict sharing: Instead of sharing photos with all Facebook followers, share them with people who you know will genuinely want to see them.

Talk to your child: When your child is older and understands more about social media, ask them if they are happy for you to share or post a picture.

Check terms and conditions: Teacher Zoe Holland entered a photo of her daughter’s bedroom in a competition to find Britain’s untidiest bedroom, she didn’t check the T&Cs and the image ended up on the front page of the local paper. “I felt extremely guilty, and it did teach me to always check what rights you allow other people when you’re sharing images” she wrote on Internet Matters.  

Don’t share: Ultimately, the best way to protect your child online is not to share photos and posts about them.

Read more: Six simple ways to protect your privacy online

For a comprehensive and easy-to-use resource of the most up-to-date information for keeping your child safe online, check out Internet Matters.