Are You Guilty of ‘Sharenting’?

What Kids Want Parents to Know About Oversharing on Social Media

What is ‘sharenting’?

Sharenting (or over-sharenting) is the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children, such as baby pictures or details of their children’s activities. It is related to the concept of “too much information” (TMI).

It’s Dangerous – Here’s Why

Firstly, as a privacy & security professional, I have concrete thoughts about the situation of sharenting. I don’t believe we should waive our child’s right to privacy by creating their digital footprint before they have an opportunity to decide it themselves.

Additionally, many people don’t know how to change privacy setting for online accounts and devices; heck, I can barely keep up! The world is sadly full of bad actors who may use your child’s photos for nefarious reasons, or start aggregating the personal information you share, such as their names, dates of birth, place of birth, school, graduation date…etc. There are real risks with terrible outcomes that we need to think about and protect our kids from.

But Let’s Move On to How Our Kids Feel About it…

In a recent study, researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Washington asked kids what they thought about their parent’s social media activity and rules about technology. One major concern was “sharenting.” That’s when parents talk too much about their kids on Facebook and other sites. They post pictures and other items about their child without the child’s permission.

Want to know more about what your kids are thinking? Take a look at what this survey had to say, along with suggestions on wise social media use for parents.

Tips for Overcoming Parental Oversharing

Modern children understand the importance of controlling their online image. Pictures and stories that seem cute now could have unwanted consequences in years ahead – they may cause bullying at school or make a potential employer think twice about scheduling an interview.

  1. Ask first. Your kids are a big part of your life, but they own their own experiences. Get their permission before posting anything about them. Let them make the final decision once they’re old enough to understand the situation, which is usually around age 9.
  2. Think positively. As you might expect, posting good grades and sports victories is more popular than mentioning eating disorders and messy bedrooms. Deal with sensitive issues privately.
  3. Limit your audience. Facebook privacy settings may not prevent leaks.
  4. Examine your motives. Be honest about why you’re posting. Are you proud of your kids or fishing for compliments for yourself? If the latter, refrain from posting.
  5. Seek support. Of course, many parents were attracted to the internet in the first place because they’re looking for information and encouragement from their peers. Just keep your privacy in mind while you’re being social.
  6. Resist competition. Do you sometimes feel inferior to parents who brag about cooking gourmet meals, and struggling to find room for their kid’s academic and sports trophies? Don’t be that person, yourself; a little humility can help everyone feel more comfortable.

Other Technology Tips for Parents

In addition to cutting back on sharenting, kids had some other guidelines they’d like their parents to follow. See how you measure up.

  1. Create quiet zones. Turn off your devices at the dinner table and a couple of hours before bedtime. Spend time talking to each other in the same room or sit together while you read or work on hobbies.
  2. Drive safely. Children will copy your habits. Texting while driving is a major distraction. Even hands-free devices interfere with your concentration.
  3. Aim for balance. Is technology crowding out other priorities in your life? Putting sensible limits on browsing and streaming frees up time for visiting the gym, taking long walks, or planning fun family outings.
  4. Simplify enforcement. Make your rules easy to follow. There may be sites you want to ban completely, or at least until your kids reach an appropriate age. Discuss your reasoning so kids can start learning to make sound decisions for themselves.
  5. Be present. Focus on enjoying family time, rather than recording it. Applauding your child at the school play is more important than experimenting with camera angles.

The Internet has made it easier to embarrass your kids, now that you’re no longer limited to photo albums and baby books. Be a parent who uses social media responsibly. Ask your kid’s permission before posting about them and think about the long term impact of your pictures and comments.

Most importantly, consider if you have the authority to waive their right to privacy by creating their digital footprint at an age where they have no choice about the future consequences. Consent matters.

Next Steps: Learn More

If you have questions or concerns, do your research. If you don’t know where to start, start with Alexio. Alexio provides online cybersecurity foundation courses, access to more advanced courses, webinars, plus we can also do 1-1 coaching to help you out.

Contact Alexio today to learn more about our cybersecurity training and consulting.

About the Author: Anne Genge

Anne Genge is a CDM Global Infosec Award Winner – ‘Most Innovative Woman in Cybersecurity.’  Anne has mastered the ability to teach complex material in a way that makes sense to everyone. Using humour, case studies, and layman’s terms, she makes cybersecurity relatable and understandable. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/C) with a specialization in small business and healthcare. In 2017, she co-founded Alexio Corporation, now a national and global award-winning cybersecurity firm. She is approachable, accessible, and ready to help you. Book a chat with Anne today. https://getalexio.setmore.com/annegenge or visit https://getalexio.com

“Small business has a big problem with data security and they have very small budgets. My mission is to help every small business understand their risks and close the gaps easily and affordably.”

Anne Genge, CEO Alexio Corporation
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