NZ Woman's Weekly
Social media and your children

Social media and your children

We parents just can’t help ourselves.

Our toddler said something hilarious, so we tweet it. We’re so proud of our teenager for passing their piano exam with flying colours that we post details on Facebook.

Our Instagram account has shot after shot of our kids looking adorable and getting up to all sorts of mischief.

In some cases, we even have Tumblr pages or blogs dedicated to our offspring and every single thing they do – the good, the bad and the extremely embarrassing.

Now there is a term for the practice of sharing every little detail about our kids on social media: Oversharenting.

why we do it:

• We want to make connections with other people.

• We like making others laugh with our kids’ antics.

• We want sympathy for the tough job of being a parent.

• We want to keep family and friends up to date with what is going on in our children’s lives.

• We’re so proud of our children we want to show off.

Sharing personal information about our kids online is also a good way of documenting their childhood. Going back through your timeline can be a trip down memory lane and in a few years they may thank you for recording all these milestones.

Or they might refuse to speak to you because they’re mortified about how much personal information you have shared on Facebook.

Posting information about your child online has become very common – 94% of parents do it, according to a UK survey – and is sparking huge debate around the world. While many people see nothing wrong with it, others say it disrespects children’s privacy and can lead to them feeling embarrassed when they are older.

What you write about them now – and the pictures you post – is establishing a digital legacy and can create an online reputation that they have to deal with further down the track. Think about how your teenager will feel when your posts about their bedwetting problems surface on the net years later.

“Hopefully a parent posting on Facebook about their child won’t make the child feel like that defined who they are,” says US psychologist Mary Beth DeWitt.

She recommends parents think about how they would feel if their parents posted about them online for everyone to see.

“Use that as the guideline for what’s appropriate and what isn’t,” Mary adds.

There are also concerns that your posts can make identity theft easier. If details like their name, address, birth date and additional information, such as the school they attended, fall into the wrong hands, it can be used for fraudulent purposes.

Posting a lot of easily accessible details online can also provide cyber predators with information to win over children. It is important to check privacy settings.

Companies and universities are increasingly using social media to research potential employees and students.

If you’ve been uploading information about their teen years, that can affect their chances of being hired or landing a university place.

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