When does sharing become oversharing? It’s a question us moms should probably be asking ourselves more often. First steps, okay, But pictures of toddlers pooping on the potty or an embarrassing self-selected outfit?
I see it all the time and sometimes I wonder what the longevity will be. It’s one thing to have those photos stashed in a family album for strategic teenage embarrassment. Quite another to share on Facebook where everyone from family friends to coworkers will see them now and then maybe in a decade or so, your kids’ friends and SOs will see them, too.
And apparently I’m not the only mom who is wondering about where the line between sharing and oversharing sits.
Seventy-four percent of parents say they know a parent who has shared too much information about a child on social media, including 56% who said they knew someone who shared embarrassing information about a child, according to a new poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“We have now crossed a threshold in our society where if you do not record, broadcast or disseminate your life or your child’s life it does not exist,” says psychologist David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. (source)
Obviously, it’s up to each mom to decide whether her toddlers’ potty training mishaps belong on Facebook. Some moms (and dads) are doing a 180, sharing absolutely nothing about their babies and kids. Not pics, not updates, nada.
When it comes to my son, who is 3 months old, I am doing away with privacy settings altogether—by abstaining. That means my wife and I won’t be posting photos or discussing him online publicly (more on that later). Like a kid born into a vegetarian or Amish family, that is just the way it will be… Again, there’s a difference between discussing and posting images of your child, and hijacking his or her identity online. Either way, it’s difficult to say what the consequences of oversharenting might be. In her 2008 article “Why Youth Social Network Sites,” Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft, discussed how creating social media profiles bolsters a teenager’s sense of identity. However, it’s somewhat unclear what happens when an adolescent inherits a digital legacy—told through photos, anecdotes or even those faux-narratives—from his or her parents. (source)
Concerns cited by moms and dads choosing the full blackout route include safety and privacy – there are lots of creepy people online and I have actually had photos of my kid reposted by creepers – and more recently, digital legacy. Whether you’re a Gen X or Millennial mom, you probably created your own online identity. These days, most of us are creating the earliest online identities our kids will have. They’ll grow up with a history in photos and texts that’s accessible by everyone. Forever.
So don’t we owe it to them to be careful? If a stranger can find their cutie bootie pics now, then shouldn’t you assume that someday your son or daughter’s future boss will be able to do the same? If nothing else, think before your post. Ask yourself whether you would have been okay with your mom or dad hanging the same pic on the living room wall or telling the same story over dinner when you were a teen. If the answer is no, back away from the POST button and share it privately at your next party instead.
Trust me when I say your kids will thank you for it.