April 17, 2016

Not that Bad

I’ve been told I share a lot on social media. Every time someone makes a comment about how photographed my kids are a little voice inside my head shouts “I’m not that bad!” but truth be told, I’m hard pressed to think of people in my social circle who post more. So when I was rocking a sick child this afternoon and came across a marketwatch article which cited the actual average amount of sharing I was immediately curious how I compared.

The average parent will post almost 1,000 [specifically 973] photos of their child online before he/she turns five

The study is not exactly scientific, so I had to create my own methodology. The original study stated on average children were “feature” in 973 photos posted by their parents on social media before the age of five. Not knowing how they defined “featured” I decided to count every photo each child was in, including just fingers and toes. I also decided to count frames, individual shutter actions, not images. That means counting each photo in a collage individually. Near duplicates were included since they’re technically different photos. Exact duplicates, such as reposting the same image, or different post processings of the same photo, were not. I’m counting photos, not shares, after all. Almost no one posts photos of the girls besides myself, so for simplicity, I’m not counting those.

Unique Photos Shared on Each Platform (Nicole /Alexis):
Facebook: (337 / 77)
Instagram: (128 / 29)
Blog: (360 / 77) – And, man, this post did not help my count!

(Normally I double check my numbers, but this time I opted not to. I like math, but counting is rather boring.)

Removing the duplicates cross platform and I’ve only shared 364 of Nicole, and 141 of Alexis. We would expect the average person (according to the above study) to have posted 729.75 by the time the child was 45 months old (like Nicole) and 259.5 by the time the child was 16 months old (like Alexis). My posting rate is roughly half of the average. See – I’m not that bad!

Of course, you can’t really draw too much of a conclusion from the study, one way or the other. The methodology is unclear, it relies on self reporting which is notoriously unreliable, and it has a sampling issue. Besides, if you’re measuring how exposed our children are, number of photographs is a bit of a flawed metric. Is 1000 photographs taken at a single event really more exposed than 500 photographs taken on 500 different days? If I’m being honest, I think that’s why my number is lower than someone who knows me might expect.

In my effort to only showcase my best photographic work, I limit myself to no more than three photos per post, and only a few posts with photos a month. On facebook I have just two to four photo albums a year, including a yearly highlights album where I again limit myself to an average of two or three photos per month. I may not share a lot of photos in any one instance, but there’s a nearly constant stream of photos in my feed. Because I post fewer photos per iteration, but more iterations, it probably appears like I’m sharing more than I actually am.

On a side note, I still maintain some of this fear over social media sharing is blown way out of proportion. There are legitimate cases of detrimental over sharing, obviously. Re-punishing a child to capture a photo of ensuing tantrum is cruel (and hopefully just a one time lapse in judgement from that parent in the article). I also think the concern over the number of over-sharers may also be overly done. If one over-sharer has hundreds of friends, then hundreds of people know at least one over-sharer. The fact that those hundreds of people know an over-sharer doesn’t necessarily imply there are hundreds of over-sharers.

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