Protecting Your Kids from the Overshare Culture.

overshare culture

The first time it happened that she remembers was this summer. We were in the restroom at a local store when a lady, whom I know solely based off of social media, called my daughter by her first name and asked about the animals on our farm. My seven year old politely answered the question then posed one of her own: “How did you know my name?” “Oh! From Facebook, sweetie! I just love your pictures on there!” She dried her hands with a stiff paper towel and promptly left the restroom, leaving my seven year old daughter in utter confusion and a slight sense of worry: “How do strangers know who I am? What in the world is a Facebook?”

The bottom line is this: children, especially older ones, who are beginning to own a sense of self and budding independence, feel exposed and violated when it comes to social media overshare that we have assumed as commonplace in today’s culture. A recent survey of children ages 6-12 by Highlights magazine revealed that kids list the cell phone as the number one distraction of their parents. When the question “If your parents lost their cell phone for a day, what do you think would happen next?” one eight year old girl boldly replied, “Freak out, but I’d be happy.”

If children already see the smart phone as a means of distraction of their parents, how much more trust is broken when we post each and every moment of their lives online? I will raise my hand and be the first to testify that I fit the bill. I have maintained a website online since my firstborn was one year old. There are countless photos, funny quotes, and sentimental stories shared on my blog. And while I am exceedingly thankful that I have those memories saved, when my daughter was scrolling through pictures on my phone recently and saw a photo of her smiling before she (finally!) pulled that loose front tooth, she immediately stated, “Please do not post that online.” I knew then and there that what I share as my children grow older will be carefully tailored to protect their trust and innocence.

There is a Chinese proverb that states the following: “There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it.” Let me be clear: my kids are the most beautiful and humorous little human beings on the planet. But so are yours. The ultimate goal is to decide for whom are the carefully crafted photos of your child eating a messy popsicle or peeing off the porch? Are they for your family’s eyes or the world to see? Will this social media status or photo embarrass your now infant when they are ten? What about your spouse? Are the “likes” and comments worth it?

The other day my three year old and four year old sons said the most hilarious thing in the entire world. And I wrote it in my journal. Take the time to document your family. Preserve those memories. And bring back the baby book instead of Facebook.

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9 Responses to Protecting Your Kids from the Overshare Culture.

  1. Beth January 22, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    Great post!!! I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind as the kids grow!!

  2. Kim January 22, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    My girls are 10 and and 13 and I definitely try to respect their privacy. The middle schooler has friends of her own on Facebook and I do not wish to embarrass her that way. I usually ask them if it’s okay to post something, or they will tell me ahead of time NOT to post it. Considering the way that nothing on the internet ever seems to go away, what we post about them today might still be floating around out there years from now when they are trying to get into college or land a job. And there are plenty of things about myself that I don’t want posted online so I try to put myself in my daughters’ places before I post. Great article!

  3. Margie January 22, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Thank you Christie! To take your message a step further, those of us who are raising children (not our birth children) need to take extra caution about posting information and photos. For many reasons ,such as safety.As I have had to sign papers at school stating I did NOT want my boys photos in the local paper. Even within our church ,I have had to kindly ask those who think it’s “cute” to post photos of the children’s class on social media. I had to remind them that they need parents permission to do so.

  4. Jill January 22, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    It’s so true. I am trying to use my phone less. One “trick” I use is to only charge it at night. If I run out of battery I am done with it for the day! Usually I make it with more than half left so I know I don’t use my phone much!

  5. Leslie January 26, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Great article. Sums up a lot of my feelings towards this topic. In general, I think our culture has become so wrapped up in living through “likes” that we forget to actually live in the moment instead. I’m guilty of it too, sometimes. Ever since having my son, though, I’ve been so much more cautious about what I post online.

  6. Jana Ritter January 26, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    Thank you for posting this. I have chosen to keep all photos of my daughter off of Social Media and I feel great about that decision. Sadly, I can’t keep her father from posting every little moment (mostly selfies) online, but I know in my heart that its a good decision to not do it myself. Sadly, we are in a world where I get asked “why don’t you post photos, is something wrong with her?” or the worst, “well, how am I supposed to show her off if I can’t post?” I am a free lance photographer and probably take thousands of photos each week and somehow my family and friends see most of them! Crazy how text and emails are able to share photos without being posted, huh 🙂

    Also, thank you to Margie for your response- as someone that’s daughter will have a step mother soon enough, I appreciate seeing someone take just as much caution with children that are not their birth children.

  7. Suzy March 26, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    But why have you ‘friended’ people that you do not actually know, on Facebook???

  8. Michelle W. March 26, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    Love that you wrote about this! I’m a blogger and a avid Facebooker but I worry about how much I share about them and try to edit as much as possible. Great post!

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  1. matthewWmaxey | Bringing up baby in a digital world - July 15, 2015

    […] babies. During all that reading I was struck by a post over at Knoxville Mom’s Blog about Protecting Your Kids from the Overshare Culture. That paragraph that really caught my attention was the story below from on of the […]

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