Teens and young adults seem to love social media, but many parents also spend endless hours on the site, sharing information about their families.
It seems like a harmless activity, but it can quickly get out of hand. Parents may be putting their families in social, emotional, and physical danger by sharing too much online.
Constant Documentation Violates Privacy
Most parents regularly post about their children. According to research from security firm AVG, 92 percent of children in the United States have a solid online presence before they’re walking.
Even though you can’t legally get a Facebook or Twitter account until you’re 13, it doesn’t stop parents from posting photos, videos, and mini stories about their kids’ adventures, from potty training woes to major milestones.
Parents also turn to social media for support. They share difficulties they’re facing as a parent, oftentimes sparing no details in their description.
It might feel like a personal journal, but instead, parents are actually violating their kids’ privacy, even if the picture was posted when the kids were young. Posts about bath time, potty training, and young mistakes can haunt kids in their teen years, potentially generating cyber bullying and other social problems.
Aside from embarrassing photos, many parents also share details about a child’s personal struggles with depression, drugs, behavioral issues, medications, individuals of the opposite sex, and other information that could be embarassing. This could result in serious emotional and psychological repercussions that stunt emotional growth and lower self-confidence.
Social Sharing Also Causes Safety Concerns
Many parents document everything about their kids online. They post their child’s full name, birthday, and photos that go along with it. When it comes to identify theft, this information makes it easy.
Things posted to social media become public domain, despite the privacy you’ve put on your computer. If you post something on the internet about your kids, anyone can see it or dig it up, and predators and pedophiles can use the information for negative purposes.
There’s also the risk of digital kidnapping, which is a form of identity theft that occurs when someone copies and pastes pictures of your kids, claiming to be their parents. It’s a huge invasion of privacy and highly illegal.
Sharing Is Okay As Long as You’re Wise
Sharing information about your kids on social media isn’t all bad. It can be encouraging to see parents expressing pride for kids’ accomplishments and supporting their goals. It’s when parents share too much information that it becomes a problem.
To protect your children from embarrassment and physical safety, use these smart sharing tactics when you engage on social media.
- Keep full names out of the picture. This protects from identity theft. If your daughter’s name is Tanya, refer to her as T rather than by her full name. Additionally, don’t photograph your children with their full names attached, like when they’re wearing a name tag or they’re holding an engraved trophy. These details are best kept private.
- Consider whether or not you’d be comfortable sharing something in a typical social setting. People often feel braver posting things online that they wouldn’t normally share in public because they’re sitting alone. But if you wouldn’t say it out loud to total strangers, don’t post it online.
- Don’t post naked or partially-clothed pictures. These pictures will embarrass your kids later on and could cause emotional damage. Also, it’s an unfortunate truth, but there are pedophiles out there, and you don’t want them getting ahold of your kids’ photos.
- Alter your privacy settings so that only people you know can see your posts. If your posts are public domain, anyone can see them.
- Keep details out of the birth announcement. It’s great to post a photo and announce the arrival of a new baby, but only share the first name and keep the date, time, and other details out of the mix. This reduces the risk of identity theft for your child.
- Consider the future impacts of posting a picture or status update. Ask yourself how your child might feel in 10 years, or even a few days, from the time you post information about them. Try to save them the embarrassment and social problems that tactless posts might entail.
- Keep private information private. This includes behavioral issues, illnesses, medications, emotional challenges, hard days at school, and anything else that may embarrass kids.
- Set up alerts to track kids names and information. These alerts can help you stop identity theft and digital kidnapping from the beginning.
Overall, it’s great to support your kids and keep family informed about their milestones, but don’t do so at the expense of their health and safety. Consider the way your social habits will affect them both now and in the future, and only share stories and photos you know won’t have negative, lasting impacts on your loved ones.