Tips for Dealing With Social Media Oversharing—By Kids AND Parents

We live in a hyperconnected world. The mischief of my rural youth—cow-tipping, joy riding, messing with people at the RV park— has been replaced for my kids by YouTube, social media, and online gaming. The implications of cow-tipping don't extend very far. The implications of the Internet, however, are potentially global and life defining. I've previously written about raising my son in a digital age. One of the big pitfalls parents face today is the potential for oversharing—both by their kids and by the parents themselves.

Where does one turn for tips on oversharing? Why, the Internet, of course!

The blog at FamilyTech had some great points about oversharing in a recent article:

Ease of sharing can quickly lead to oversharing. Oversharing can be described as posting too frequently, posting too much similar content, or posting “controversial” content. How do you know how much is too much? How do you avoid “oversharing?”

Start by knowing your audience. According to Pew Research the average adult Facebook user has 338 friends. Of those people, how many are going to care about your trip to the lake? Do your coworkers on Twitter need to know you had a glass of wine with lunch? Is your boss looking at your Instagram feed? Consider not just what, but who you are sharing with. Facebook allows you to limit or even exclude who sees certain posts. For example, create custom groups to share baseball pictures with grandma and grandpa.

It's a valid point. It's not just annoying to keep seeing kitty photos and posts about your latest kitchen concoction, it's also a potential risk to your personal safety. One of the rules I've firmly implemented for my family is not to post any vacation pics until we get home from the vacation. It drives my wife a bit nuts, but I don't want anyone to know that my house is sitting vacant while we're lounging in a cabin in the woods.

There's a fine line when sharing pics/vids/stories about your kids as well. A recent survey found that kids aren't all that jazzed about not having control over what shows up on Facebook or Instagram when they're the star of the show. It makes sense—if you or I are uncomfortable with someone sharing a video of us, imagine how an awkward tween feels about it. A report at Today notes:

They’re often frustrated, it turns out. In a new study, kids were more than twice as likely as their parents to say they’re concerned about adults sharing too much information about them online.

“Kids wanted a parent to ask them permission before posting about them,” Sarita Schoenebeck, one of the study’s authors, told TODAY.

“Embarrassment was definitely a word they often used. Permission was another one, which speaks to the sense of control — that they want to control the information posted about them online.”

It would certainly make sense for parents to be more mindful of how their kids feel about Internet posts over which they have no control. I don't think it undermines your authority as a parent to ask your kid for permission first. In fact, it would be more likely to build the bonds of trust between parent and child. I know my kids are often eager after I take a cool or funny picture of them, excitedly asking, "Are you going to post that on Facebook?" It's not always that way, though. Make sure to keep their feelings in mind, and take it seriously if they're feeling socially awkward.

Next page: Some tips to avoid oversharing that apply to both parents and children: