By Debbie Myers
Oversharing – that’s what grandmothers do. It’s our job.
No sooner had my granddaughter arrived in the world, I was snapping pictures of the little one wrapped in her warm blanket, in the arms of her loving mother and wearing the cute tutu her cousin gave her. Each picture was promptly posted to my Facebook page to share with my family and friends – all of them begging for more. Careful not to be one of THOSE grandmothers, I paced myself; yet, continuing to post adorable snapshots on a fairly consistent basis. But then my husband says, “Hey, we need to think about the issue of ‘oversharenting.’” To his point, I guess passing around grandkid photos to your friends over coffee and bridge, as my mother did, and posting pics on Facebook, as I was doing, are two very different things.
The term “oversharenting” was coined by Stephen Leckart who, along with his wife, made the decision to abstain from posting photos of their three-month-old son, as well as staying away from any discussion about their son online. As Lechart wrote in a Wall Street Journal article titled “The Facebook-Free Baby,” “It’s not that I want my son to remain hidden from the world. I just want him to inherit a decision instead of a list of passwords and default settings. If he takes part in social media, he’ll eventually do so on his own terms, not mine.”
Leckart makes an interesting case for letting our children create their own “digital footprint” in life, one defined by them, not by pictures and information living on the Internet that was posted well before the child had any say in the matter. There is also the issue of predators who surf the web for information about children for use in despicable ways. Along with everything else parents have to worry about, exposure of their kids online – even innocently done by grandparents – should now be added to the list. But like everything in life, there’s likely a middle ground here and a few guidelines we should all consider when sharing our lives online:
- Think twice before posting anything. If you don’t want to see your co-worker’s scantily clad vacation photos, they probably don’t want to see your naked grandbaby learning to crawl for the first time. Ask yourself, “If I were on the other side of the screen, would I want to see this?” It’s the neighborly thing to do.
- Think about who you are posting these pictures for before you post them. Take the extra time to customize your settings so that only family and close friends can view your photos. Google+ circles and Facebook groups can be created to include only those people with whom you want to share more private, intimate moments with – like grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends. Save your former colleague from 20 years ago from having to “hide” you.
- Be a good role model for digital behavior. Be the Girl Scout of social media sharing. It’s okay to show your Facebook friends that you are excited about a new grandchild, but the people who care most probably speak to you on a regular basis. Opt for face-to-face communication in instances that are more private. It’s also the better way to re-kindle any old friendships!
All in all, just remember to keep your excitement under control. Sharing photos of your loved ones is a great way to connect with family and friends. Just don’t let “oversharenting” overshadow good judgment.