Oversharing – Don’t blame it all on the kids!

No matter which way you interpret the plethora of research, it is very clear – our teens are oversharing. The 2015 Intel Security research, entitled Teens, Tweens & Technology, shows that nearly 40% of Aussie teens have shared the name of their school, 25% have posted their email address and 17% have shared their full birth date on social media!! It makes you feel a little nauseous, doesn’t it?

However, it isn’t just the kids oversharing! It seems that adults are also prone to committing this online sin particularly when it comes to photos. In fact, research conducted by the UK advocacy group The Parent Zone, shows parents are really putting a lot of time into photos – with the average child featuring in 973 pics before their 5th Birthday.

And just to make the issue even more complex, it appears that we as parents aren’t really managing our privacy settings all that well. According to the study, 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings and almost half (46%) have only checked once or twice despite it being the most common platform for photo sharing.

But do we really need to fuss about sharing photos online? Surely sharing a photo or two online can’t really be that much of an issue? Perhaps this is just a big overreaction?

Unfortunately not. Issues with sharing arise when the photos get into the wrong hands. You may be familiar with the lewd photo scandal involving Sydney PR Guru Roxy Jacenko’s daughter Pixie Curtis. Pixie, who is often regarded as Australia’s most popular four-year-old, has over 100,000 followers on Instagram. Photographs of Pixie that had been altered to include explicit material were circulated among Sydney fashion circles in February this year. Very disturbing! Then there was the story of the US woman Brittany Champagne who discovered that images of her eight-year-old daughter and 9-month old son had been stolen from Facebook and shared with porn sites all over the internet.

So, yes people – we need to be careful. But, I don’t want to ruin all your fun online. So, here are my top tips to help you contain your oversharing and keep our loved ones out of the firing line.

  • Check your privacy settings REGULARLY to ensure they haven’t changed. Sometime when they change, settings can revert to a default setting. So why not put a reminder in your calendar to do this every few months?

  • Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust. And always give a profile a detailed look over before accepting any request. Cybercrims have been known to create mirror profiles of existing profiles with the aim of getting access to photos and private information.

  • Think before you upload. Is the picture appropriate? Could it embarrass your child later on? Under no circumstance should you post photos of children in any state of undress.

  • If you are considering posting pics of other children, always seek permission from their parents or carers.

  • Don’t share everything. Please avoid using social media as your photo album. There is no need to upload every picture you take. Not only are you over exposing your kids but you will wear out your friends!

  • Stay up to date with the changes in rules and regulations on the social media platforms that you use.

So next time you want to post a pic of your precious offspring online, take a moment to think. Is this photo appropriate? Am I oversharing? And just as importantly, will my kids resent me when they are older? Just because they are young and don’t have a say now, doesn’t mean their opinion won’t matter down the track!

The above lessons are all taught to children who have the Life Education program modules bCyberwise and It’s Your Call in their school. Our cybersafety modules are accredited by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. The basic principle taught to children is not to share more information than they would be happy to give to a stranger. These modules, in collaboration with Intel Security, teach children of middle and upper primary age how to be responsible digital citizens, by being respectful online as well as learning about cybersafety in order to reap all of the rewards of the online world in the safest way possible.

For more information on the cybersafety modules please visit bCyberwise and It’s Your Call.

If you would like to report inappropriate content or for more information on cybersafety issues head to the eSafety commissioner website.