You might have heard of ‘phubbing’ – a portmanteau of the words ‘phone’ and ‘snub’, ignoring people around you by looking only at your phone – but have you heard of oversharenting? In an article posted by The Times , they discuss a debate setting the Internet on fire and defined it as parents sharing too much about their kids online.
Is it wrong to post photos of your children on Facebook and other social media sites? Amy Webb on Slate started the discussion by boldly stating that she never posts any pics or videos of her children online to preserve their anonymity. Says Amy, ‘[Oversharenting] poses some obvious challenges for [a child’s] future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college?’
Andrew Leonard at Salon , an oversharenter himself, thinks Amy is missing the point, and rebuts, ‘We’re strengthening the ties that bind a larger community of family and friends together, embedding our stories and lives in contexts that are larger than those of the individual nuclear family or neighborhood street. Some anonymity may well be lost through this process, but something valuable is also gained; a sense of togetherness that’s often missing or attenuated by modern life.
The fact is that children are growing up in an environment where their lives are shared more and more – being tagged in posts by parents, friends, and in the future, colleagues. Control of our digital reputation is limited as it is. But, Stephen Balkman, leader of the Family Online Safety Institute, says in Time that the new phenomenon is an opportunity to teach kids about online reputation.
When your kids get to be 11 or 12, sit down and Google their name with them. Go through their Timeline. See if they want what’s up there, and if they don’t, delete it. They’ll better grasp the benefits and consequences of sharing information.
Whether the new online world is a risk or a benefit, it’s something new and we must learn as we go, keeping respectful of our children and their future as we do it.