Parents sharing on line: When does it cross the line?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

CyberParenting Topics on TheFish103.9FM, Tuesdays.

First in a series this month on distracted living in the network.

Photo: www.stfuparentsblog.com

Over sharing on social media is one of the dangers of the network culture which seduces us into distracted living by keeping our focus on the wrong things. In the case of “over-sharenting,” a term devised to describe parents over sharing, the allure of getting “likes” to photos and stories shared with our network may trump the privacy needs of children.

The desire to record, post, and text every moment that moves you can become automatic pilot.  When we are on automatic pilot, we are not giving quality attention to the relationships impacted by what we share. And this could be problematic for children in the long run who really need to experience role models using social media and texting applications with discretion and purpose.

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How are parents over sharing in the network?

Some parents are posting many intimate details and situations simply because they can and it seems like everyone else is doing it without inhibitions.  Some examples include:

  • Complaining about their children on Facebook  (especially teens)

Remember the Facebook dad who made a video that went viral recording of himself shooting his daughter’s laptop with his pistol in esponse to her disrespectful letter to her parents (which she thought she had posted to private)?

  • Posting photos of intimate moments (first potty experience/poop in the bathtub)
  • Showing photos or posting status updates describing your child doing things that are destructive, rude or anti-social and declaring it cute or funny
  • Explicit images of birth moments

Last week I came across an article on parents sharing too much information  featuring a website devoted to this topic called STFU Parents, and was fascinated by the extent of content in this blog where childless bloggers and parents are calling out parents on questionable updates from their networks. While the commentary can be very harsh, and the style of communication can be abrasive, these bloggers are asking good questions about the socialization of parents on-line.

For me the most disturbing part of this topic, and what was revealed on STFU Parents, is how this brand of over sharing by parents demonstrates a lack of respect for children as individuals.

The STFU Parents blog creator, Blair Koenig offers good advice in an interview on the Today Show. “Parents, edit yourself. There is a big difference between sharing and over sharing,” Koenig said.

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Consequences of parents over sharing their experiences with their children

The concern about over sharing is a matter of being purposeful in the example we set for our children. When we over share it is primarily setting a bad precedent at a very early age…starting with a sonogram. We may think there is no harm in that, but when we are not mindful of privacy of our unborn child we are really in effect not respecting their individuality to keep private and share according to their desires when they are of age. The more we share details, images and events of our children on-line without clear criteria about what to share and how, we are training our children to not have limits.

Criteria for sharing on line about our children

I encourage parents of children of all ages to review the fundamentals of house rules for cyber safety which is available at A Parent’s Guide to Cyber Citizenship.

It truly is a matter of protecting civil liberty.

As long as everyone understands your values and how that translates to protecting individual liberty (keeping you secure), and the greater good of the family (avoiding inviting trouble or bad actors into your life), then it is possible to be creating an on-line presence that respects the individuals in your home.

So much of sharing that I have witnessed is very reasonable. Sports events, graduation, announcing engagements, etc. are all very appropriate in my opinion.

The bigger question is in our sharing.

Do we have clarity with ourselves and our children about the criteria for sharing.  For example, most camera equipment today geo-tags photos…so be aware of how much information you are publishing about you and your family.

For more about thought leadership for family life in the network, and house rules that promote respect and liberty for the individual, check out my ebook: The Authority In Me.

Here is a link to my recent Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner article on this topic : http://www.examiner.com/article/are-parents-over-sharing-the-network-listen-and-learn-from-our-critics

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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