Managing Children's Online Identities: How Parents Decide what to Disclose about their Children Online
This paper considers how parents use the social media platform Instagram to facilitate the capture, curation and sharing of 'family snapshots'. Our work draws upon established cross-disciplinary literature relating to film photography and the composition of family albums in order to establish whether social media has changed the way parents visually present their families. We conducted a qualitative visual analysis of a sample of 4,000 photographs collected from Instagram using hashtags relating to children and parenting. We show that the style and composition of snapshots featuring children remains fundamentally unchanged and continues to be dominated by rather bland and idealised images of the <i>happy family</i> and the <i>cute child</i>. In addition, we find that the frequent taking and sharing of photographs via Instagram has inevitably resulted in a more mundane visual catalogue of daily life. We note a tension in the desire to use social media as a means to evidence good parenting, while trying to effectively manage the social identity of the child and finally, we note the reluctance of parents to use their own snapshots to portray family tension or disharmony, but their willingness to use externally generated content for this purpose.