Today’s children have definite thoughts on parental overshare on social media. Here are some technology rules to keep everyone’s privacy intact.
Have you ever heard of “sharenting”?
According to a recent study, it’s what children said when asked about their parents’ social media activity – a major concern for them is when their parents talk too much about their children on Facebook and other social sites.
Are you guilty?
Twice as many children as parents expressed concerns about family members sharing information about them without asking permission.
Okay, it’s bad that anyone shares information about someone else without permission. But it’s happening to children enough that they’re noticing – and that’s extra bad.
In a world where consent is become more and more of an issue, we are still slow to ask permission from children before we tell personal stories about them to the world, or post public photos.
Researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Washington asked children to make technology rules, and the results of it are interesting.
So what do our children want us to know about parental oversharing?
Tips for Overcoming Parental Overshare on Social Media
It is so very important to realize that our children have grown up with the internet. They know and understand the importance of creating their online image – an issue that didn’t even exist until I was an adult with a child of my own!
Pictures and stories that seem cute now could have unwanted consequences in years ahead if they cause bullying at school or make a potential employer think twice about scheduling an interview.
Your children are a big part of your life, but they own their own experiences.
Get their permission before posting anything about them. Let them make the final decision once they’re old enough to understand the situation, which is usually around age 9.
And before that age, be very cautious about the photos and information that you share about them to avoid parental oversharing.
As you might expect, posting good grades and sports victories is more popular than mentioning eating disorders and messy bedrooms, and no one should ever shame a child publicly to make them behave. Those are the very definition of social media parental oversharing.
Deal with sensitive issues privately.
My youngest son is a complete ham and loves to show off for the camera. When he flopped on the floor pretending that he was dying because I asked him to do housework, he opened one eye and said “Aren’t you going to take a picture for Facebook?” He watched over my shoulder, laughing, as I wrote about his reaction to being asked to clean up.
When I wrote a post on appropriate chores for children, all four of them were fighting over the chance to be featured showing off their skills.
Limit your audience
Facebook privacy settings may not prevent leaks, but they are fine for information that is semi-private. And of course, almost everyone is on Facebook, so it’s a great way to talk about that family dinner or Grandfather’s surprise birthday party.
Alternative sites like FamilyLeaf and WhatsApp groups make family communications more secure if you need to discuss things that really should not become public.
Examine your motives
Be honest about why you’re posting. Are you proud of your children or fishing for compliments for yourself?
They’ll know, so don’t do things that will leave them resentful later.
Support is good
So many parents are attracted to the internet for information and support! I know that I head to Facebook for autism parenting support, for homeschool encouragement, and so much more. In fact, when I am feeling down and need a bit of uplifting, my Facebook friends are always ready to help.
But don’t forget that you are speaking on a worldwide stage and once you’ve written something online, it’s hard to take it back. Always keep your – and your family’s – privacy in mind when you’re being social.
Did you know there’s an actual form of depression that they call Social Media Depression? It’s far too easy to feel inferior to other parents on social media. You know the ones? They brag about cooking gourmet meals and struggling to find room for their children’s academic and sports trophies.
Don’t be one of those parents. A bit of humility helps everyone.
And if you’re struggling with depression, comparing yourself to them, a bit of perspective might help. In all my life, I have never found a perfect family. Oh, some are better than others, but the perfect Facebook Family really does not exist.
Other Technology Tips for Parents
In addition to cutting back on sharenting, kids had some other guidelines they’d like their parents to follow. See how you measure up.
Create quiet zones
Turn off your devices at the dinner table and a couple of hours before bedtime. Spend time talking to each other in the same room or sit together while you read or work on hobbies.
Children will copy your habits. Texting while driving is a major distraction – not to mention being very illegal in more and more places. Either get a hands-free set up or stop the car.
Aim for balance
Is technology crowding out other priorities in your life? Putting sensible limits on browsing and streaming frees up time for visiting the gym, taking long walks, or planning fun family outings.
Make your rules easy to follow. There may be sites you want to ban completely, at least until your kids reach an appropriate age.
Discuss your reasoning and help your children understand so they can start learning to make sound decisions for themselves.
Focus on enjoying family time rather than recording it. Applauding your child at the school play is more important than experimenting with camera angles.
The Internet has made it easier to embarrass your children now that we’re no longer limited to photo albums and baby books. Be a parent who uses social media responsibly. Ask your child’s permission before posting about them, and think about the long term impact of your pictures and comments.