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Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure

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“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” Audre Lorde

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure - Our Kids and Privacy Matters

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure – Our Kids and Privacy Matters

Recently, university researchers asked children and parents to describe the rules they thought families should follow related to technology. In most cases, parents and children agreed — don’t text and drive; don’t be online when someone wants to talk to you. But there was one surprising rule that the children wanted that their parents mentioned far less often: Don’t post anything about me on social media without asking me. NYTimes

Are You At Risk of Over-Exposing Your Kids On Social Media? About a month ago or so, one of my kids sent me a link to a long overdue topic of discussion in the NY Times: Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say. I jumped on the link, read it, and like the 100+ other respondents, left my comment on this highly charged topic that always manages to trigger strong emotions on both sides of the parental fence. As a parent of two young adults, I’ve always had a rule to not post photos or stories about my children without their permission. I’m their mother, yes, but they deserve the right to tell their own story how and when they please. Given the many dangers that we encounter on the internet from predators, to bullies, to scammers and identity theft, why do some parents continue to expose their kids and family life in ways that make it easy for them to become targets?  I know you enjoy the instant social media attention but, how does it benefit the kids?

Let’s be clear about the distinctions here: I’m not talking about the run of the mill type stories of family outings, trips and such mundane subjects that some parents post. If you read across the blogosphere, you’ve come across the full spectrum of stories we get to see and you know what I’m referring to. Why do some parents resist the temptation while others barrel ahead spewing endless tidbits and tales of their children’s lives? Perhaps it is that illusion of safety that some parents feel when they think they are sharing their business with a select group of “friends” on their posts, on Facebook, Instagram or other sites … when the reality is that they are not. Even with the strictest filters, information seeps out and, frankly, we have ourselves to blame when we refuse to weigh the long term risks of creating digital footprints that expose our kids in ways they might not appreciate; It is just not worth the risk and we cannot blame our social media sites. The decision to post or not to post lies with us, and our kids shouldn’t be pawns in our race for social media attention.

“If you don’t have a voice that forces you back to basics, you’re a dangerous person. Or to put it another way: You’re at risk, and the people with you are at risk. I’m not a daredevil. I don’t fly without a safety net.” Steve Wynn

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure - Our Kids and Privacy Matters

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure – Our Kids and Privacy Matters

Those early posts from parents linger, not just online, but in our children’s memories — and the topics may be things we don’t see as potentially embarrassing. The son of a friend (who asked that I not use her name) still brings up things she wrote about his picky eating when he was younger — years ago, she says. NYTimes.

Have you thought about the digital footprint you are creating for your children? As the article points out, there is a disconnect between what parents think is acceptable and what their poor kids would rather have them do. Unfortunately, the most egregious aspect of this issue is that, quite often, the victims of this behavior are younger kids who can’t read or see what their overzealous parents are posting. What is forgotten in this zealotry to overshare is that information shared on the internet stays there forever and as those little kids mature, all the stories, photos, and embarrassing moments shared about them become part and parcel of their digital footprint on the internet. Your younger kids deserve some modicum of respect and privacy when it comes to events going on in the privacy of your home. Just because we are parents and make decisions about our children’s daily exchanges doesn’t mean we should make those private, intimate moments fodder for social media consumption. We need to get back to common sense decisions and back to basics by offering our kids a safety net that protects them from such unnecessary risks and exposure.

Where do we draw the line? Why do some parents think it’s okay to put their family business out there? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what you choose to write and say about your life – You are an adult and are responsible for the stories you divulge about yourself but, your children are not in a position to edit you or hit the delete button when you start yammering on about the details of their lives. We must stop playing chess with kids lives, and instead, create filters that minimize the risk of overexposure and unwanted exposure for our children. Why? Because we’ve seen way too many parents cross the line from what is acceptable sharing to just TMI – too much information. When parents write about family matters, and especially about their children, without checks and balances, it becomes easy to cross that line. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and stay silent or foggy about the dangerous implications of this practice. While taking risks in our lives can be a good thing, we must think twice before jumping in feet first to take risks with the lives and future of our children and their ability to tell their story as they deem fit.

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“The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.” Edmund Burke

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure - Our Kids and Privacy Matters

Reflections: The Risk Of Over-Exposure – Our Kids and Privacy Matters

s a society, says Ms. Steinberg, “we’re going to have to find ways to balance a parent’s right to share their story and a parent’s right to control the upbringing of their child with a child’s right to privacy. Parents often intrude on a child’s digital identity, not because they are malicious, but because they haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing,” said Ms. Steinberg. NYTimes.

Whatever happened to enjoying family time without the presence of voyeurs? Social media has turned us into voyeuristic consumers waiting for the next shot and story; the scary part is that it is very addictive. Often, on all the popular social media sites, I see folks go into overdrive once they get a few responses to their initial postings. But, people forget that these are public forums that attract both the curious and the crude.  Just as many of us know to not talk about the dates of our planned trips and other private/personal matters on the internet, we must include our children in that category of topics that are best shared privately.  I can understand an adult making the decision to discuss his/her personal struggles as a way to help others…  That is fine because you are making an educated/informed choice to expose your life to the world. However, your child/children have neither the maturity nor the decision making capacity to do so and this is where we must draw the line.  Part of the problem is that, for some parents, the line between what is private and what is public is blurred.  Because some of us have minimal filters about propriety, we extend the same expectation to our interactions with our children and what we write/say about them. While that explosive diarrhea, bed-wetting story or naked photo might be funny to your friends, down the road, it could cause much pain and embarrassment to your child.
As parents, we are our children’s first and most trusted advocates, and protecting their privacy should be paramount on our what-not-to-do on the Internet list. Cut the risks and be judicious about what you share. Respect your child’s right to privacy; Our children deserve better. What are your thoughts?

This post was inspired by a WordPress Prompt:  Discover Challenge:  Risk – For this week’s Discover Challenge,  take a chance. Take a deep breath, publish, and see what happens next.  To help other participants and new fans find your response in the Reader, tag your post #DiscoverWP.

And The WordPress Daily Post : FOG Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.

Positive Motivation Tip: Respect your child’s right to privacy; all children deserve better. 

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos :  Risk via Pixabay and/or via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

23 Comments leave one →
  1. 20/04/2016 4:08 pm

    I agree, parents must be careful about the info they divulge. ❤️

    • 20/04/2016 8:31 pm

      Exactly! We need to be careful about what and how much we divulge. Our kids shouldn’t be pawns in our race for social media attention.

  2. alison permalink
    20/04/2016 4:21 pm

    Really interesting. I am pretty private about my kids too in some instances because I am very aware of how they might feel. I think a great point is that you are creating their digital footprint and you want it to come off well.

    • 20/04/2016 8:29 pm

      Yes Alison, true! The fact is that, given the opportunity, most of us, including our kids, would want to create our own digital footprint… <3

  3. Liz Mays permalink
    20/04/2016 5:17 pm

    It’s a changing world and I don’t think parents or kids have fully adjusted. Having a few embarrassing photo albums on the bookshelf at home is very different than giving strangers access to photos and details of your life.

    • 20/04/2016 8:26 pm

      True… also, some folks get so carried away once they start, that they don’t know how to rein themselves in. They just don’t stop long enough to think about the fact that their kids are not pets to bandied around on a whim…

  4. sophieannecameron permalink
    20/04/2016 5:17 pm

    Great article! I don’t have kids myself but a lot of my friends post pictures of their kids – from newborn to high school. I’ve always thought that this was wrong – I don’t know why, I just think that the kids really don’t have a say in it and that’s what bothers me about it. I don’t think that I would have been happy to find out that my picture was all over the internet when I was a kid. I’m divided on the subject.

    • 20/04/2016 8:22 pm

      Yes, I feel the same way about it too. If my mother wrote endless posts about me and posted all sorts of embarrassing photos I wouldn’t be happy about it. I think parents need to stop and consider what it would feel like if the shoe were on the other foot. I’ve never understood the point of the need to divulge endless data

  5. Tonya Blackstone-Coleman permalink
    22/04/2016 6:20 am

    I too have become more weary about what I say online about my family and kids. Safety is first and we should be careful.

    • 22/04/2016 10:48 am

      Exactly. I know we all share some milestones and family tidbits from time to time, but we have to draw the line somewhere… Some topics should be off limit. I agree.

  6. Amy permalink
    22/04/2016 7:12 am

    This is honestly the thing that held me back from blogging for years. Now that I do have the blog a big part of me hates how much I give away to strangers online but I also keep a lot in. It’s hard finding the balance. I don’t have kids but if I did they would NOT be spoken about. Other than the fact that they exist! It’s a scary time to say too much.

  7. mythirtyspot permalink
    24/04/2016 2:48 pm

    I make a point not to put my daughter on social media, but it can be hard as a blogger. But it is important to me.

  8. Ana Fernandez permalink
    24/04/2016 3:53 pm

    I dont have kids but definitely dont like when people post things or pictures that im in without telling me

  9. Anamika Ojha permalink
    24/04/2016 4:52 pm

    I believe that parents should expose kids to social media otherwise kids will be behind other kids as it is competitive world. However I feel that parents should continuously monitor their online activities.

    • 25/04/2016 10:36 am

      I don’t see the correlation between parents who use their kids as pawns in an effort to get more social media attention and being in a competitive world. If we want our kids to compete and make innovative contributions to the world, we can start by educating them and creating an at home learning environment that sparks their curiosity. Uploading endless photos and tidbits about our little kids on social media is quite pointless and can be harmful. TY!

  10. Maria Teresa Figuerres permalink
    25/04/2016 7:09 am

    I only post positive photos/things about my son, and so far, when he sees/reads them, he approves. It’s always safe not to overexpose ourselves, our families and our children in social media, and yes, I’ll definitely ask my son’s permission next time about pictures/articles that I’ll share with others online. Thanks for this reminder!

  11. MapleMouseMama permalink
    25/04/2016 8:47 am

    As a blogger it is a fine line to draw when talking/posting about my family on social media. I know that my son is too young to care right now, but as he gets older he will have an opinion. My teen definitely has one, but at the same time she loves to post selfies and comment on friend’s pics. I am careful with what I say and do and I think I have managed to keep everyone’s privacy intact, for the most part.

  12. thenailchronicle permalink
    08/09/2018 3:44 pm

    I don’t have kids yet, but even in my blogging I ensure that my family and friends remain anonymous. They know who they are when I talk about them but no one else will. 🙂

  13. Carmen Edwards permalink
    09/09/2018 10:26 am

    I agree that everyone should be careful what they post in general but let’s be honest we make a lot of decisions for our children that will last a lifetime.

  14. Pink Frenzy/Öku Möku (@Pink_Frenzy) permalink
    09/09/2018 3:48 pm

    I don’t have kids, but it was still interesting read x


  15. twinspirational permalink
    11/09/2018 10:41 am

    We don’t have kids but we post about our niece and nephew. But we try to be careful about what we post about them.

  16. Stacey permalink
    11/09/2018 4:53 pm

    I love tgat kids can be even more introspective than their parents.

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