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      Mindful sharenting: how millennial parents balance between sharing and protecting


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          Sharenting, parents’ sharing of personal information about children on social media is becoming increasingly controversial. Its potential risks have drawn some parents to engage in mindful sharenting: parents’ application of strategies to reduce the potentially negative effects of sharenting, as they are aware of the impact sharenting can have on the child’s privacy.


          This study aims to investigate parents’ motives for engaging in mindful sharenting, the strategies they implement and how relatives and acquaintances react.


          In-depth interviews were conducted with eight mother–father dyads in Belgium. At least one of both respondents had to be born between 1980 and 2000 (i.e., millennial parents), having a child aged between 0 and 6 years. Conversations were transcribed ad verbatim, coded in Nvivo, and were analyzed thematically.


          The reasons leading parents to engage in mindful sharenting were previous negative experiences they encountered or heard of from acquaintances. In addition, parents aimed to safeguard their child’s privacy and prevent any misuse of their identity or any other forms of aggression. Furthermore, certain parents wish to grant their children the freedom to choose which media content about them is shared online at a later stage in life. As parents are aware of potential benefits of sharenting, they employ strategies to ensure their child’s privacy, while still enjoying the benefits sharenting offers them. These strategies include photographing the child from a distance, the child looking away from the camera, focusing only on a body part, covering the face with an emoticon, blurring the face, or cutting recognizable parts from the photo. However, parents engaging in mindful sharenting are also confronted with questions and negative comments from family members and acquaintances. This makes them feel like they must justify their decision. Moreover, they are sometimes confronted with family members posting identifiable pictures of their child, which leads to privacy turbulence, and parents having to clarify and renegotiate the privacy boundaries concerning image sharing.


          Parents deciding to engage in mindful sharenting engage in several strategies to balance between the opportunities sharenting can offer them, the social pressure they experience to post child-related updates, and their objective to protect their child’s privacy. However, some parents face criticism, making them feel pressured to justify their decision and having to clearly explain to family members not to make identifiable pictures of their child available online.

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          Most cited references41

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          I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience

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                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                25 July 2023
                : 14
                : 1171611
                [1] 1Research Group MIOS, Department of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp , Antwerp, Belgium
                [2] 2Research Group M2P, Department of Political Sciences, University of Antwerp , Antwerp, Belgium
                [3] 3Department of Business and Law, AP University of Applied Arts and Sciences , Antwerp, Belgium
                Author notes

                Edited by: Xi Chen, Yunnan University, China

                Reviewed by: Jing Re, Kunming University, China; Leyi Ren, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), China; Anna Brosch, Medical University of Silesia, Poland; Anastasia Psalti, University of Macedonia, Greece

                *Correspondence: Michel Walrave, michel.walrave@ 123456uantwerp.be
                Copyright © 2023 Walrave, Robbé, Staes and Hallam.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 12 March 2023
                : 19 June 2023
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 55, Pages: 13, Words: 13102
                Funded by: “Yes, for me, that is okay - although we are a couple that is very communicative. If something is put on the table and the other does not agree, we immediately try to find a common ground. We may occasionally share pictures, but then protected” (Mother, couple 1).
                Funded by: “If he later wants to be on Instagram, what I will not advise, then he’s free do it. He can put whatever picture he wants online. But I will not stimulate that. I will not, before he can give permission, put him on that. This is for me the most important because he did not ask for it” (Father, couple 5).
                Original Research
                Custom metadata
                Media Psychology

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                sharenting,mindful sharenting,children,parents,privacy,communication privacy management theory,social media


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