How would you feel if a close friend or family member kept sharing your personal stuff on social media without your permission? I am sure you’d feel frustrated, disgusted, offended and angry! You would probably even unfriend or block them! Well that’s exactly how your children feel when you share their personal stuff on social media without their permission. A recent study asked children what they thought about their parent’s social media activity and rules about technology. One major concern they all had was “sharenting” – a term used to describe the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children. It is related to the concept of “too much information”.
Researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Washington found that twice as many children as parents expressed concerns about family members oversharing personal information about them on social media without asking for their permission. They also gave children a chance to describe what social media rules they would set for their families.
Take a look at what these children had to say in the survey, along with some suggestions on social media use for parents.
Here are 6 Tips to Overcome Sharenting
Children today are super conscious about managing and controlling their online image. They definitely don’t want pictures and stories floating around on social media that could pose them problems later in life. Pictures that seem cute now could have unwanted consequences in years ahead like bullying at school or being judged by a corporate while making a hiring decision.
1. Take Permission First. Your children have an identity and self-image of their own. You must take their permission before posting anything about them. Let them make the final decision of what goes on social media and what does not go on social media.
2. Deal with sensitive issues privately. Social media is not the place to beat your children down over sensitive issues like messy bedrooms or bad eating habits. These sensitive issues must be discussed only inside the home.
3. Be mindful of security leaks. Before you put out any confidential family information on the Internet, check for the security settings. Facebook privacy settings may not necessarily prevent leaks. Alternative sites like WhatsApp groups make family communications more secure.
4. Be honest about why you are posting. Be aware of your ulterior motive when creating a post related to your children. Are you posting because you are genuinely proud of your children or are you competing with other mothers for social media likes and shares and fishing for compliments for yourself?
5. Be private when seeking support. Many parents get attracted to the Internet because they are looking for a support group of peers that could give them information and encouragement. Just keep your privacy in mind while you are trying to belong or being social.
6. Don’t compete with other parents. Do parents who keep bragging about the success stories of their children intimidate you? Don’t put the pressure of your own complexes and insecurities on your children. Allow your children to blossom in their own time. Allow them the free will to live and express life on their own terms.
In addition to cutting back on sharenting, children had some other guidelines they’d like their parents to follow. See how you measure up.
1. Get of your devices and get present. Turn off your devices at the dinner table and a couple of hours before bedtime and connect with your children. Spend quality time talking to your children about how their day was and other things that interest them. Make them feel loved. Make them feel connected to you.
2. Lead by example. Your children will copy your habits! Conduct yourself in a way that would not upset you if your child were to copy that exact same habit. Texting while driving is a major distraction and extremely risky. Even hands-free devices interfere with your concentration on the road.
3. Social Media – Life Balance. Are social media engagements crowding out other priorities in your life? It might be a good idea to put sensible limits on browsing and streaming time. This will free up time in your schedule for other meaningful and important things like visiting the gym, taking long walks, playing with your children or planning fun family outings.
4. Make your social media rules easy to follow. Don’t allow your children the freedom to surf the Internet without parental guidance. There may be sites you want to ban completely, at least until your children reach an appropriate age. Discuss your reasoning with your children so they too can start learning how to make the right decisions for themselves.
5. Focus on enjoying family time rather than recording it. Too many people today are going through family time, outings and other major events in their life through the lens of their phone camera. They are physically present, yet not really there. Applauding your child at the school play is more important than experimenting with the camera angles and apps on your phone to beautify the images!
The Internet has made it much easier to embarrass and frustrate your children since you are no longer restricted to the photo albums and baby books. Be a parent who uses social media responsibly. Always be mindful about the long-term impact of your pictures and comments regarding your children. Ask your children permission before posting anything about them on the social media. Allow them the freedom of choice in building their online image. Say “I love you” to them before bedtime. Everyday!
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