Most parents will happily put up a hand and admit to a biological bias when it comes to their kids.
What mum or dad has not thought their baby was easily the cutest at playgroup or that their son or daughter was the stand-out in the school play?
We are programmed to be proud of our offspring, and for some parents there is an overwhelming desire to tell the world about it, and share every cute expression or milestone of their child.
And for the most part, where is the harm in that? Surely there are a lot worse things in the world than boastful parents?
But experts argue online technology has massively changed the landscape from the days when we passed around a few photo albums and brag books.
Now we have so-called sharenting — the act of posting pictures of your kids on social media — and the contention is that it is far from innocuous.
The major concerns centre on privacy, identity theft and the digital harvesting of children’s photos and information. At best this data could be manipulated for marketing and commercial purposes, but in the worst case scenario it could be used by sexual predators.
The scope for sharenting starts well before the child is even walking, and in some cases dates back to when they are a mere speck, only a few weeks after conception.
We can see regular updates on Facebook and Instagram of the excited expectant mum and her expanding tummy, even plotted next to signs showing the number of weeks into the pregnancy.
After the baby is born, important milestones like the first smile, the first tooth or the first vaccination can be documented for all to see.
For some parents, the idea that this could constitute an invasion of their child’s privacy might seem absurd but experts say there are real risks.
These concerns were highlighted at the recent Digitising Early Childhood International Conference hosted by Edith Cowan University in Perth.
Experts warned about parents overexposing their young children on social media, including posting personal details of their offspring before they were born.
Curtin University Associate Professor in Internet Studies Tama Leaver says parents are unwittingly turning their babies into “big data” by allowing companies to track their life events.
“We’re sharing stuff on platforms that are owned by private corporations, and it’s in their interests to understand when a new person comes into the world,”
Details including medical conditions could have negative effects later in life, such as when applying for life insurance.
People are sharing everything from their eight-week ultrasound photos onwards and while they are doing it in a celebratory way, they are sharing them on platforms owned by private corporations, according to Professor Leaver.
So while you might not officially have a Facebook profile until you are 13 or older, in the background Facebook will start to build a profile of someone before they are born.
“While it’s fantastic that most social platforms are free to use, we need to know that it doesn’t really mean free, because we’re exchanging information about us and others that is valuable to companies,” Professor Leaver says.
“There will be information about our kids that could last their whole lifetime. There’s no guarantee the information won’t be used in radically different ways to how it is today.
“We’re sharing stuff on platforms that are owned by private corporations, and it’s in their interests to understand when a new person comes into the world, and we know the surrounding advertising platforms shift radically when they realise someone is pregnant.
“There’s a time and place for sharing cute pictures with family but we need to think whether we need to share them publicly.”
Professor Leaver also raised concerns about monitoring devices or “baby Fitbits” that are capable of collecting health information about children and sending it to third parties.
His advice is this — by all means use this technology for your own purposes but keep the data inside the walls of your own home.
Dr Catherine Archer from Murdoch University, who also spoke at the Perth conference, says many “mummy bloggers” have become commercialised so they and their children are then used online to promote brands.
“They start out telling stories and being about community but money changes things,” she says.
“And that’s just in the mum bloggers’ space because now of course it’s done more generally through Facebook, and there is a real lack of digital literacy out there.
“Some people aren’t that bothered and see it as a diary of their life, and they argue they like to look back through it so what’s the big problem?
“But others don’t understand privacy settings and that when you post photos of your children to family and friends they can be reposted.
“It’s become such a normal part of our lives to post this stuff that people aren’t necessarily mindful of privacy anymore.”
To be fair there are benefits of this sharenting phenomenon, such as being able to share moments and updates with family and friends, regardless of location and time differences.
But as the experts warn, we should never forget there are big players hovering in the background, watching and collecting our family information.
In the US, there are already reports of teenage children threatening to sue their parents for invading their privacy by posting images and information about them on social media.
While that might seem a ridiculous notion only possible in litigation-happy America, there is something to be said about thinking twice before making information about young children public property.