Ask the Experts by Nicole Runyon, LMSW

Q: I often share photos and stories of my children on social media. The term, “oversharenting” was just brought to my attention, along with the thought that posting about my children may not be ok with them. I had never thought about it before, but I wonder if my posts are upsetting to my children. Can you shed some light on this?

A: Your social media posts about your children may be upsetting to them. Depending on their age they may see it as an invasion of privacy and may experience a range of feelings from embarrassment to anger at having their lives become public without their permission.

Furthermore, the Internet is permanent, once something is posted it does not go away, even if you delete it. It is important to be mindful about what you are posting. Ask yourself how your child will feel about your post in the future, 5 years from now, or 10 years from now. Set an intention and think about the fact that your social media “friends” are not the only people with access to your post. Have a filter for yourself, don’t just mindlessly post. If the child is old enough, ask their permission, and explain to them the permanency of the Internet.

Eventually your child will have their own device, if they do not already, and when that happens, you will likely have a lot of rules for their usage, as well as conversations about appropriate posting. If you have that expectation of them, you should hold yourself to the same standard. Also, know that you are modeling behaviors and actions every day for your child. Appropriate social media sharing is important modeling. Children learn through watching their parents and other adults significant to their lives. It may seem innocent, but if you are posting to get validation for your parenting successes, or proud moments, your children are watching you. They may turn to social media for validation at a crucial time in their development. It is important that they build real life connections, rather than social media connections.

Nicole Runyon, LMSW is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Grosse Pointe, MI. She is currently in private practice and has 15 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families focusing on various psychological issues. Her specialties include knowledge about child and adolescent issues plaguing today’s young people, specifically in how the use of screens is affecting child development. Nicole may be reached at (313) 209-4566 or nicole@nicolerunyon.com. Her company, Professional Psychotherapy LLC is a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals.

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