Through sharenting, or online sharing about parenting, parents now shape their children’s digital identity long before these young people open their first email. The disclosures parents make online are sure to follow their children into adulthood. Indeed, social media and blogging have dramatically changed the landscape facing today’s children as they come of age.
Children have an interest in privacy. Yet a parent’s right to control the upbringing of his or her children and a parent’s right to free speech may trump this interest. When parents share information about their children online, they do so without their children’s consent. These parents act as both gatekeepers of their children’s personal information and as narrators of their children’s personal stories. This dual role of parents in their children’s online identity gives children little protection as their online identity evolves. A conflict of interest exists as children might one day resent the disclosures made years earlier by their parents.
This Article is the first to offer an in-depth legal analysis of the conflict inherent between a parent’s right to share online and a child’s interest in privacy. It considers whether children have a legal or moral right to control their own digital footprint and discusses the unique and novel conflict at the heart of parental sharing in the digital age. The Article explores potential legal solutions to this issue and offers a set of best practices for parents to consider when sharing about children online. It concludes by providing a child-centered, public-health-based model of reform that protects a child’s interest in privacy while also recognizing a parent’s right to share online.
Stacey B. Steinberg, Sharenting: Children's Privacy in the Age of Social Media, 66 Emory L.J. 839 (2017), available at