5 tips to avoid 'sharenting'

May 3, 2017 Elizabeth Meade, MD


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Social media is a great tool for parents to share information and memories about their children with friends and family, find support within communities, and connect with other parents and health professionals. But with the ever-expanding role of social media in our lives and the depth of information to be found online, parents are often looking for guidance on how to share safely and respectfully! Oversharing that could compromise a child’s personal information or privacy has become known as ‘sharenting.” Your pediatrician can offer some great tips to avoid this. Here are a few of mine:

1) Make sure you understand the privacy settings of your social media platform. Just because your account is private, can other people publicly share photos or information you post?

2) Consider not posting your child's full name and birthdate, just as you might not post your own. Identity theft doesn't happy only to adults -- we are increasingly seeing this occur with minors as well. I also recommend not routinely sharing your child's location (or your own!), especially on non-private platforms.

3) Set a Google alert with your child's full name. This can help you be aware of any postings about them by someone other than you. 

4) If you are posting private or health-related information about your child, consider doing so anonymously. Social media can be a great place to connect with other families dealing with similar health issues, but your kids may not want detailed information out there, especially as they get older. We also need to consider that publicly available information about their physical or mental health could potentially affect their future ability to get covered by insurance, be hired for a job, etc.

5) Finally, these little digital natives are far more adept at and understanding of social media than adults our age ever will be. Start asking your children as they get older: "Is this OK for me to post online or would you like me to keep it private?" Kids as young as kindergarten age (occasionally even younger) may have strong opinions about what they do and don't want shared! Involving your kids in the conversation this way is a great place to start broader talks about internet safety, and spark crucial conversations about how your kids can safely have their own online media profiles once they're older.

How do you share safely online? Share your tips in our comments section.

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