The University of Michigan Health System did polling to study an emerging trend dubbed “oversharenting.” It’s a label for the excessive sharing about children that goes on with parents on social media. Some of today’s biggest Twitter and YouTube stars are still in diapers—but their lives are on display to the world. Their online privacy is nonexistent.
The problem isn’t just that your adult peers may get worn out with the constant posting about every tantrum, every cute moment, every…single…thing. It’s that your children have no say in the digital identity that’s being created for them and that will follow them for the rest of their lives, like it or not. Theirs is the first generation to grow up in the glare of the digital age spotlight, and they haven’t even lived long enough for any of us to fully understand the ramifications of it all.
So where’s the line for you where your kids are concerned? Have you been guilty of sharing too much in the past? Learn how to avoid “oversharenting”, and give your children the online privacy they deserve.
Your Instagram and Facebook followers don’t love your child.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But it’s true. And the deepest desires of your child’s heart, their most tender questions, and their little kid challenges shouldn’t be entrusted to people who don’t love them. Guard those tender moments and keep a hedge of protection around your child.
It never goes away. Ever.
In ten years, when your child is out of college and looking for that first job, human resources at Company XYZ is going to Google him before you can blink. Would he choose to paperclip a childhood picture of his bare bottom to his job application? Probably not. But by posting it to Facebook years ago, you did that for him. Thanks, Mom.
Oversharenting leads to one of two pitfalls: exposing or posing.
If you want to protect your child’s privacy and feelings, but insist on posting about him frequently, it will lead to a lot of whitewashing of your family’s life. You’ll essentially become a poser: Someone who projects that they and their family are pretty much perfect. It can cause a lot of envy and insecurity for those who digitally watch from afar. On the other extreme, if you insist on “keeping it real,” you’ll expose failures and flaws that your children would rather keep private. The answer? Less sharing on the whole.
Consider fine-tuning your permissions and settings.
Lots of moms I know say, “I post a lot about my children so their grandparents, aunts, and uncles out of town can feel a part of their lives.” And that’s a legitimate desire. But take the time to set up separate “friend groups” on Facebook or other social media platforms, and pick and choose which posts are best for the public and which can be seen by family only.
You can read more about the University of Michigan Health System study here.
Tell us! When’s the last time you oversharented?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.