We all know today's tweens and teens are prone to oversharing every aspect of their lives on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram -- and even adults are guilty of oversharing -- but in the case of one young woman, college undergrad Dana Snay, her overshare accidentally cost her family thousands of dollars.
When Snay's dad, a former headmaster at Gulliver Preparatory School, sued his former employer for age discrimination and won an $80,000 settlement, Snay couldn't resist posting this cheeky Facebook update: "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."
Her careless post started a domino effect: it was seen by other Gulliver students (in her network of 1,200 friends) and eventually made its way back to the school's attorneys, who reported it back to the ruling judge, who then revoked the settlement. Even though the court stipulated that it was Snay's parents who couldn't talk about the case, her Facebook status still violated the confidentiality agreement.
Obviously, Snay was old enough to know better than to boast about something better kept private, but her mistake highlights our society's addiction to social media and to oversharing (and oversharenting). Our constant need to be plugged in can lead us to weaken our sense of privacy and diminish our better judgment. So as your children being spending more time on social media, start teaching them the things they should never reveal (on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram)...no matter how tempting. Even if they have exclusive "friends only" settings on their social accounts, remind them to avoid sharing the info below for privacy and safety reasons.
1. Personal IDs. This seems like a no-brainer, but teach kids not to type social security numbers, credit card numbers, and account passwords of any kind (email, social media, bank) in any messages. They should also not share photos or videos that show credit cards in them. You can never be too careful...especially when child identity theft can be prevented.
2. Mailing/home address. Street View on Google Maps is just a few clicks away. (And no one wants a repeat Bling Ring situation.) And tell your kids to avoid posting photos or videos of the house (or selfies with the house in the background), especially with street signs in prominent view. And be careful about Foursquare, especially if you don't want too many people to know where your kids are at certain times.
3. Medical history. There have been amazing stories of kids being diagnosed and saved through Facebook, but like personal IDs, medical information (e.g. specific conditions, diseases, and allergies) should be kept private. You never know what people may do with the info -- child identity theft can also occur with medical records.
4. Specific vacation days. Sure, your kids may be excited about going to Disney World or Hawaii, but it's probably best to avoid posting status updates that say, "Can't wait to see Mickey in two weeks!", or posting photos with the caption, "I can't believe I'm in Hawaii right now!". Don't let others know when your house will be or is empty. Instead, encourage your kids to post photos and share stories after the vacation is over.
5. Problems with other people at home or school. It's easy to vent about some annoying parent, sibling, friend, teacher, etc., online but you never know who will see a Facebook or Twitter status and be hurt. It may be hard, but it's best to wait and talk to someone in person (whether it's venting to an objective person or confronting the problem person). Embarrassment will be nixed and online fights and dramas will be avoided. Personal problems won't drag on...and on.
6. Improper photos or videos. These include any photos and videos that can be misconstrued or misinterpreted, including ones showing nudity or risqué looks, hard partying, smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. Basically anything that show your kids in compromising situations. And have your kids ask their friends (and vice versa) to grant permission before any photos or videos are posted and tagged.
7. Sensitive information attached to a court case. Obviously, don't do what Snay did. If your family is involved in or going to be involved in any court case, instruct your child not to reveal anything (even in person) before, during, or after the case...no matter the outcome. After all, no one wants two sentences, 140 characters, or a photo or video to be the cause of unhappiness (like, um, losing money) and unwanted media attention.
Tell us: What will you teach your kids not to share on social media?
Use our family internet-use contract to keep your kid's digital interactions under control.
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