The tweet (since deleted) went viral, and touched off a series of parodies. Just a few hours later, a man named Jon Hanson tweeted that the “#HimToo guy” was his brother, and by the end of the day, Pieter Hanson had created a Twitter account (@ThatWasMyMom) to set the record straight.

The #HimToo tweet is a classic example of “sharenting”: when parents post online about their kids, often without the kids’ permission. In this case, Hanson’s mother overshared about her adult son, but the practice is especially common with parents of younger children; in a 2016 study of over 160 parents, each parent shared an average of 116 photos of their kids (pdf), the majority of which were taken from before the child turned eight. Many showed kids in somewhat embarrassing situations, like in the nude as babies  or with food plastered all over their faces after a meal.

Unsurprisingly, kids hate this. In one survey of UK children between the ages of 12 and 16, 70% of respondents said they felt their parents didn’t respect their online privacy (pdf). Underscoring this frustration is the mismatch between the control parents have over their kids’ internet use and the lack of influence kids have over their parents’ online activities. While parents might not allow their children to post certain things, or even ask them to take down posts after the fact, children have no power to veto their parents’ posts, even if the posts are about them.

So to get a better sense for how sharenting affects parent-child relationships, University of Tartu (Estonia) media studies professor Andra Siibak and her former student Merike Lipu interviewed pairs of mothers and children about their social media use. Children were between 9 and 13, and to be considered for the study, they had to be friends with their moms on Facebook. The researchers presented their results at the Association of Internet Researchers’ annual conference this weekend.

While some parents reported that they’d ceased sharenting once their kids got their own social media accounts, others still frequently posted. One mom said in her interview that she doesn’t ask before posting info or photos about her kids to Facebook. “I could and should, but for some reason I do not ask,” she said. Another reported posting after her daughter specifically asked her not to. “She sometimes says, ‘aah, don’t upload it anywhere’…but I think I have the right to upload or not; she is still too young [to decide].”

Beyond disrespecting kids’ privacy and autonomy, sharenting can have unexpectedly insidious effects for children’s social lives. Siibak says that in her research, she’s come across many stories from kids who said they became targets for bullies at school after their parents post pictures of them online. “Sometimes children feel so bad that they don’t want to go to school, because their peers are picking on them,” Siibak says. “There was one story about a girl whose mother was keeping a personal blog with family photos, and some boys found the photos and started to bully the girl.” While parents might think a goofy photo is cute, children—and their peers—don’t always see it that way.

The solution to this isn’t difficult to implement: parents should be more mindful of what they post about their kids, and to respect their children’s privacy by asking for their input before posting something that might be embarrassing. That goes for all parents—I’m looking at you, parents with adult children. Though Hanson handled the #HimToo situation with grace and humor, it no doubt caused stress in his personal life and exposed him to online harassment. Hanson told the Washington Post that all the texts he got from friends about the post disrupted a test he was taking, and that afterward, he was so mad at his mom that he couldn’t bring himself to call her to ask her to take down the tweet. Instead, he enlisted his grandma and brother to relay his wishes, and his mom responded by deleting her entire account.

Siibak says she’s heard from quite a few adults who have the same sharenting gripes as her adolescent research participants. “It doesn’t end with getting out of the cradle, or going to school—it continues,” she says. “Til death do us part, I guess.”

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