5 Unforgivable Sins Parents Make While Oversharing on Social Media
The day started out as it always did: coffee, email, phone messages, a quick Facebook scan…and then…what the heck?
Staring at me, even before my coffee became cold, was post after post, and photo after photo, of sick, bloodied, and crying kids. The first was a blood-soaked bandage showing the actual lump removed from some childs’ head! I could have gone the rest of my life and would have been fine not seeing that. It is an image that I. Will. Never. Unsee! And I want to!
We also love to share our children’s accomplishments. Parents are perfect braggarts when their kids are involved. **I’m raising my hand, ‘guilty.’ Isn’t that what Facebook is for? We are proud of our kids so let’s face it, social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends.
But at what point does sharing become too much?
Sin Number 1 – Anything is fair game
Grandmas, Nannies, Nana’s and all the “Pop-Pop’s” take note: in a few years, your grand-babies are not going to be babies anymore. They will be adolescents, then dare I say–teenagers. Your Facebook friend, whom you shared that photo of your messy pudding-faced angel while wearing only a diaper, will most likely ‘have a friend, that knows someone, who knows another kid, and just happens to be in your grand-kids’ class at school.’ Bullying is real. Please be selective when posting those precious cherub moments.
Sin Number 2 – Kids Are People Too
When parent’s display their kids problems on social media, they essentially are overriding their kids’ rights. Children of all ages should have a reasonable expectation that their parents will protect their privacy. Parents would do well to stop and think about how much sharing is really necessary. Posting every milestone your child manages, two or three times per day, every single day is, well,–boring. Kind of like the guests that won’t leave. “I am glad you visited but now go home. See you in a week or so.”
Sin Number 3 – Munchausen by Facebook
Parents who posts their kidlet showing every little sniffle, procedure, or fever, for the sake of “likes” reminds me of the disease “Munchausen by Proxy” where parents intentionally hurt the child to gain sympathy. While I am not suggesting that some parents who overshare their kids’ health conditions have this mental disease, I do believe that much of this behavior is motivated by the amount of “likes” one gains on the posts. “Yeah, my kid is really sick, I’ll get through it; thank you for your concern” kind of thing. All our kids get sick, but it is not the time to take photos in their most vulnerable moments. Put the phone down and take care of your child.
Sin Number 4 – Devil in the Details
Posting a photo of your sick kid with tubes hanging out of his arm or nose is a “no-go” for me. People are concerned, and I think I speak for plenty of people, we don’t want to see the details; nor should we. No one wants to see tubes, ghastly bandages and throw-up buckets on the side of the bed. (Thanks for the warning though, I will be more careful the next time I’m invited to your house unless I schedule a colonoscopy instead.) Parents who want to communicate that their child might not be attending school that day or is having a procedure might want to send a text or a private message directly.
Sin Number 5 – HIPAA Laws
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), basically gives us rights over our medical data and sets limits on who can view our health information. Parents sign forms at every doctor or hospital visit which explains the rules, but then complain to the first receptionist or nurse that might accidentally have left the kids folder out in the open for all to see. Why then, is it acceptable for parents to post pictures or speak in a public forum, such as Facebook, and disclose every last detail about the child’s illness? Children have rights; this is private health information but they might be too young to advocate for themselves. Ultimately, when children turn 18, they are in charge of their own disclosures. Children of parents who provide too much of this information before then, run the risk of public humiliation, loss of job prospects, and even lifelong relationships could be affected.
The long-term effects of how social media will affect our children is not really known. It’s an ugly truth how social media can quickly turn friends into enemies based on simple page interactions. Unfortunately, we won’t know how the use of oversharing on social media will affect our children until it affects our children.