On the topic of oversharing on social media, we asked a parent to give us her take on it and what real life tips she could offer to other parents struggling with the same issue. Here’s what she shared with us.
Therese is a Mum to Zach, 13, who has been running his own YouTube channel for more than a year.
Although Zach is confident being online, Therese says that live streaming is still a definite “no” in their household. “I think he’s still too young, and a live audience might be inappropriate,” she explains. “He has asked but we explained why we’re not happy with the idea, and agreed we will discuss it again when he is 15.”
Zach is allowed to use YouTube and has his own channel. He mostly makes videos about the game League of Legends, and he’s learning to record and edit his own videos. Occasionally, he will also use his channel for school projects.
Therese’s biggest concern is protecting Zach’s privacy. There are family ground rules, like the PC being in the living room, but she admits that they still worry. “Because he is so young, it’s one of our greatest concerns,” Therese says. “He took a course in Internet Safety at school, and we’ve asked him to read a few articles about children his age being approached, so he has a sense of the reality.”
Zach is also aware that the family rules mean he should never use his real name, mention where he lives, or give out too much personal information. “My greatest fear would be that he disregards the rules and puts himself in a vulnerable position. But I do believe we need to trust children to follow their instincts, know the dangers, and the signs to look out for – and by that make the right choices,” says Therese.
So far, there haven’t been any issues where Therese has felt Zach has over-stepped and shared too much information online. In part, she thinks this is because there are such clear rules. “I think because we established clear teachings from the get-go, it’s been avoided. But I know you can never be 100% relaxed, and the Internet is a very big place.”
Therese is comfortable sharing online, and uses social media herself, including running a popular website about car seat safety. “What I share is largely safety-related and while sometimes I might use photos of the children online, I don’t share anything personal like photos if the bath,” says Therese. “My Facebook is very locked down, and I’ve used the settings to make it as private as possible.”
As a guideline for sharing, Therese imagines showing a photo to a stranger on the bus. “If I feel comfortable with that idea, then I’m happy to share the image online. But if I’m not sure, then I’d send it over email.”
See more advice and resources to help children stay safe online.