Let’s Talk About It: Oversharing

It’s happened. The time has finally arrived. You’ve decided that your tween or teen is mature enough to start their venture into the world of social media. Understandably, you have concerns. You don’t want your child to become a scrolling zombie at every family event. You don’t want them up at all hours of the night, searching Pinterest for who knows what. And the selfies. You dread the amount of selfies your child will now be “perfecting” and posting on social media.

All kidding aside, there are valid concerns when it comes to your child’s first social media account. Whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest, there is one main topic you need to discuss with your newbie: oversharing.

Immediately after opening a social media account, discuss with your children the rules of what they should NEVER share online. Even if they have very exclusive settings on their accounts, they need to understand that privacy and safety are main priorities when it comes to a social media account.

We found a great list of “ 7 Things Kids Should Never Share Online” from Parents.com and we thought it was great information for parents and kids heading into brand new territory. Here it is:

1. Personal IDs. This seems like a no-brainer, but teach kids not to type social security numbers, credit card numbers, and account passwords of any kind (email, social media, bank) in any messages. They should also not share photos or videos that show credit cards in them. You can never be too careful.

2. Mailing/home address. Street View on Google Maps is just a few clicks away. And tell your kids to avoid posting photos or videos of the house (or selfies with the house in the background), especially with street signs in prominent view. And be careful about Foursquare, especially if you don’t want too many people to know where your kids are at certain times.

3. Medical history. There have been amazing stories of kids being diagnosed and saved through Facebook, but like personal IDs, medical information (e.g. specific conditions, diseases, and allergies) should be kept private. You never know what people may do with the info — child identity theft can also occur with medical records.

4. Specific vacation days. Sure, your kids may be excited about going to Disney World or Hawaii, but it’s probably best to avoid posting status updates that say, “Can’t wait to see Mickey in two weeks!”, or posting photos with the caption, “I can’t believe I’m in Hawaii right now!”. Don’t let others know when your house will be or is empty. Instead, encourage your kids to post photos and share stories after the vacation is over.

5. Problems with other people at home or school. It’s easy to vent about some annoying parent, sibling, friend, teacher, etc., online but you never know who will see a Facebook or Twitter status and be hurt. It may be hard, but it’s best to wait and talk to someone in person (whether it’s venting to an objective person or confronting the problem person). Embarrassment will be nixed and online fights and dramas will be avoided.

6. Improper photos or videos. These include any photos and videos that can be misconstrued or misinterpreted, including ones showing nudity or risqué looks, hard partying, smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. Basically anything that show your kids in compromising situations. And have your kids ask their friends (and vice versa) to grant permission before any photos or videos are posted and tagged.

7. Sensitive information attached to a court case. If your family is involved in or going to be involved in any court case, instruct your child not to reveal anything (even in person) before, during, or after the case…no matter the outcome. After all, no one wants two sentences, 140 characters, or a photo or video to be the cause of unhappiness and unwanted media attention.

At Project B3, we know that once you’ve posted a photo or a statement, it is nearly impossible to retrieve it on social media. Just because you delete something, does not mean it is gone for good. Be sure your child understands the that oversharing information can have serious consequences.