The parental online overshare: Finding your Facebook filter

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Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s October 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

Sharing stories about our children is certainly not a new phenomenon, but the means of sharing has most definitely changed. From pregnancy on, parents are sharing their children with the world, which begs the question: When is it time to dial back the stories told and fine-tune our parental Facebook filter?

For me, this question popped up when my daughter was in first grade. There were things happening in her life that I thought were too cute for words and, had they happened in her toddler years, they would have unquestionably made an appearance on social media. But after a few encounters where friends and family randomly chatted with her about the subject of one of mom’s Facebook statuses, I put myself in her shoes…

The Parental Share Pre-Internet: When I was a little girl I can remember being at my grandma’s house sneaking quietly down the stairs to eavesdrop on the adults gathered around her dining room table. I remember overhearing my mom or dad telling a story about me followed by (what seemed to me) uproarious laughter. With cheeks flaming, I burst into the room demanding they stop laughing at me. (Pretty sure that made them laugh harder…). A perfectly harmless encounter, but I was mortified all the same.

The Parental Share in the Age of Technology: Forget containing chuckle/cringe-worthy/troublesome tales to the kitchen table or a phone call to grandma, parents now head straight to social media where (theoretically) the whole world is at the proverbial table. Take, for example, the video of a high school freshman having a “hilarious meltdown on the 1st day of school,” taken by her mother, shared by ABC News on September 1. The National. News. Made international thanks to social media. At the time of this writing, it had been shared nearly 3,000 times, had well over 1,000 comments, and over a million views. Maybe (hopefully) she’s not horrified that this video of her having all the overdramatic feelings is out there for the world to see, but imagine the backlash she could receive from fellow students – never mind the adults sharing their unfiltered opinions behind the anonymity of their keyboards.

I’m not saying we should stop sharing anecdotes about our children – I love reading those posts, and I’m a sharing mama too, but maybe there should come a time in our children’s lives when we think twice before we hit that “Post” button. And of course, it’s all a matter of knowing your kid too. Kids need to know that we’ll keep their confidences, and we can recognize that some things aren’t meant to go outside the familial bubble. Even grandma’s dining room table.

Reader Response Time: At what point in our children’s lives do we need to filter our parental sharings on social media? How much is too much and what should absolutely be considered a no-share zone? #SFMfacebookfilter