Stop Over-Sharing: Don’t Share These 4 Things Online

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Sharing photos and updates about kids permeates social media sites, and for good reason. Many families use social media to stay connected to friends and family from a distance. Beyond that, social media has worked its way into everyday communication, just like texting.

In just a few swipes, we can connect with both friends in other countries and friends next door. What’s not to love?

As it turns out, there’s a lot not to love about this scenario. For one thing, “sharenting” (one of my least favorite made up words ever) puts our kids on display for the whole world to judge. Does that seem fair? More on that later. We also need to discuss privacy, safety, and actually listening to what our kids want.

Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Michigan studied parent-child pairs around the country and came to an important conclusion: Kids ages 10-17 are “really concerned” about what their parents post about them. Imagine that?

Knowing where to draw the line can be tricky for parents. When I first joined Facebook it was more of a high school reunion than anything else. Many years later, I always think twice before I hit publish.

Consider these guidelines before sharing photos and updates about your kids online. And always keep in mind that privacy really doesn’t exist in the world of social media. Anything you post is one screenshot away from becoming something else. 

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Location.

I cringe every time I see parents “checking in” to places with their kids or sharing photos that clearly identify where your kids are. Sure, your son looks super cute in that school uniform, but do you really want your 500+ Facebook friends to have access to your kids’ daily schedule just because he looks cute?

  • Stop checking in.
  • In fact, go ahead and turn off that GPS function.
  • If you really want to tell your friends that you went to a great new play space with your kids, post after the fact.
  • Stop sharing pictures of your super busy daily calendar! I see this one a lot. I get it, you’re busy and it’s hard to manage. You can say that without posting a photo that also shows what soccer field little Johnny needs to get to at what time and on what date.

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Embarrassing stuff.

The #1 thing tweens and teens tell me they wish their parents would stop sharing is their embarrassing moments. That meltdown that you think is so funny that it might end up on late night television after going viral might haunt your child clear through high school and trigger a dip in self-esteem.

Before you hit publish on a photo or a status update, think about how that post might impact your child in the future. Ever had a person make a comment to your kid in person about something you posted but didn’t tell your kid about (like that adorable bathtub photo)? Embarrassing!

Keep the cute private moments to yourself and resist the urge to share the low moments. By the way, if your child is having a tantrum it’s best to help your child instead of standing back and recording it.

Negative moments.

Lately, the antidote to sharing the sizzle reel appears to be sharing the “real” moments. Every parent knows that parenting isn’t easy. There are ups and downs and in-betweens. Showcasing those low moments often leads to solidarity and support among other parents. That’s the upside of sharenting. The downside, however, is that it violates your child’s privacy when you share every single moment without consent. Yes, kids have a right to consent.

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Would you want your boss to share your worst moment at work with the world? No? Then why do that to kids? It’s really important to think about everyone involved in the status update (including small children and significant others) before you hit publish.

Looking for support because you’re covered in vomit and haven’t left the house in days? I hear that! Try, “Stomach flu wins again, send healing thoughts” instead of sharing a photo of the evidence or calling out your kids by name.

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Other people’s kids.

A good rule of thumb here is that unless you are 100% certain that your friend won’t mind that picture being shared online, ask first. Some parents share tons of photos, some share a few, and some don’t share any. Yes, we live in a digital world, but we still need to practice kindness and mutual respect. It won’t hurt to ask for permission, but it might hurt if you don’t.

Speaking of asking … ask your kids before you share photos. Some kids don’t like the idea of other people seeing them online. That’s actually a good thing. When you ask your child for consent before sharing his photo, you teach him to do the same when he’s old enough to join the digital world.

What do you think?

Stop Over-Sharing: Don’t Share These 4 Things Online

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about helping parents enjoy the ride, she provides parent education and simple strategies to take t ... More

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