We all worry when our kids share too much information on social media sites. It turns out that parents sometimes overshare, too.
Linda Morgan, editor of ParentMap and author of the book “Beyond Smart” has more information.
In what ways are parents oversharing?
They are sharing a lot of personal information about their families on social media sites such as Facebook, but also on “mommy blogs.” We call this “oversharenting.” And it’s become very widespread. Sometimes, it’s just too much information. It starts early with the shot of the pregnancy ultrasound. Then, stories about nursing. The child’s potty training escapades. A bathtub photo that parents think is cute. It’s honesty gone awry.
How does this affect the kids?
When you document publicly everything your child does, it is difficult for them to form their own identity. What does individuality mean to a teenager when his identity has been created online for you by your parents?
Then there’s the privacy factor. These kids have no choice in the matter. Posting a photo on Facebook is not the same as showing someone a photo in your wallet. It’s even different than emailing something. And parents need to ask: how will this information that's out there forever affect their children in five years? Ten years?
Should parents worry that their kids will resent all this “sharing” when they’re older?
Yes, they should because there are kids who will absolutely resent it.
On the other hand, many of today’s kids will grow up with an entirely different concept of what privacy is. They’ll think that “oversharing” is just “sharing.” To them, it will look normal. Everything is in the public domain.
The idea of “privacy” is disappearing quickly.
What kinds of things should parents think about before posting information or photos that include their kids?
- Reflect, don’t reveal
Give this some real thought. What am I about to post or write in a blog, , how will it affect my child and why am I putting this out there – is it about me or about my child?
- Get your child’s permission
Even a 6-year-old should get a vote. Older kids should always be asked. And check with other kids’ parents before you post that birthday party picture. Many parents do not want their kids out there on social media sites – and they have the right to make that decision.
- Don’t get personal
Resist the impulse to post that photo of your child on the potty. It won’t be funny when his 13-year-old friends get hold of it. And, we don’t need to hear that your 8-year-old has anxiety issues or that your tween has an eating disorder. That is their story to tell if they want to tell it.
- Get smart
Today, employers and school admissions officers are searching social media sites. You might be damaging their pride and reputation and affect their future success. This information is out there to stay. Your job is to protect your kids.