How can I help my child not to overshare on social media?

With the growth of social media among tweens and teens at all-time-high, our experts give insights on how to help kids to think about what they share on social and the impact this can have on them now and as they grow.


Dr. Linda Papadopoulos

Psychologist and Internet Matters Ambassador
Expert Website

Are children more prone to oversharing online?

Yes.  If they’re not experienced about the dangers of it and also some of the sites, change their focus. Sites like Snapchat were originally about posting photos and now it’s about location services and locating each other. As a consequence of the changes and their friends taking part, children feel a lot safer online which might not necessarily be the case.

They might not be aware of the differences, it’s different to how they see it is really important.

1. Kids need to be aware of their privacy settings, it’s fine if their friends know where they are but if it’s someone they don’t know – that’s much more worrying.

2. Remind kids not to post in real time, that’s really important. “I’m at the park now” or “I’m away on holiday now with my parents”. All these things are potentially dangerous.

3. Think about what it is they are sharing. Even sharing dates of birth or pet names, things that could be used to share identity. Make them aware that this is a potential issue.

4. Talk about what picture they’re posting and why? A child’s little world is influenced by their norms amongst their friends.  Allow them to think about what they’re posting, for example, a holiday picture in a bathing suit and get them to think about why it may not be appropriate.

5. Keep that communication going, if you’re not explaining why you’re concerned instead of just saying ‘don’t do this’ they won’t get it. Explain to them you get the importance of their online world but because of your experience, you can understand projection. If you speak to them about the small things, it’s easier to speak to them about the big things. Talk to them about their digital footprint right from the start will allow you to continue having conversations as they grow up.

How can parents support their children if they overshare on social media?

Whatever our age and stage in life we’ve probably all overshared at some point. There’s nothing wrong with sharing with others. It’s emotionally healthy to get things off your chest, but it’s one thing to tell someone you love and trust, and another to share it with 3000 followers in the hope they will give you the response you need (hug emoji).

The trouble is not everyone is nice. There are people that take our pain, our secrets, our fears and hopes and laugh in our face (or gossip, share, and comment). As parents we need to watch that we don’t overshare ourselves – children are watching. We can show our children it’s okay to have strong feelings and emotions but that it’s best to share these with our closest family and friends.

Encourage them to be extra careful at times when they might feel vulnerable – like at night or after drinks. If they have overshared and they regret it, there are options. Delete posts and report/ mute/ block anyone giving abuse. If they have shared something that has hurt someone else say sorry. Encourage them to wipe their tears, start a new story and shake it off. What is news today will be forgotten tomorrow, no matter how embarrassing it might seem in the moment.

Lorin LaFave

Internet Safety Awareness Campaigner
Expert Website

How can we encourage teens to think carefully about what they share?

When thinking about the happy holiday season upon us, I do despair.  Mostly because of not being able to share it with my beautiful boy Breck.  But when I think from a work standpoint, it scares me to think of all the new devices that will be purchased in this month for children to possibly have intimate online contact with strangers, and maybe with one of the 750,000 paedophiles that NSPCC believes to lurk on our own UK internet land.  I’m not trying to be a downer, who would want to listen to that?

But, I just hope to remind everyone that we all had ‘rights of passage’ growing up.   It’s normal and something nice to look forward to.  But some parents are not putting any restrictions on what their children are able to access and this cannot be good when looking at the reports recently released stating there are over 70,000 investigations per year into CSE (child sexual exploitation) online.

I encourage all parents to be aware of who and what their children are engaging with online, and what they are posting.  My own teens show me regularly half-naked and naked photos of friends who just think it is a laugh or want to impress someone, and sometimes there are funny elements to what they post, but it worries me to think how it could go wrong in the future, with bullying, exploitation or just having to answer to someone why they posted this in the first place.

The younger ones under 13 should be granted the right to just be kids and not have to worry about how much they are liked or followed, this just encourages more adult exploration as well as risk-taking behaviour into an unknown world that they may not be prepared for.  Stick with the PEGI ratings, just do it.  And get the parents of your children’s friends onboard with laying some group ground rules, after all, it’s the parents who purchase the devices in the first place and pay the bills.

Enjoy the hols together, set the devices down for some traditional ‘face time’, and teach your children to Play Virtual/Live Real this and every holiday season.

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