May 2, 2016
By Cailey Gleeson, Trinity, Jelani McGhee-Anderson, Jones
As more adults create social media accounts to keep up with younger family members, the old saying “don’t post something if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it” is ringing true. According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, nearly 75 percent of parents now use social media.
“I have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. I send Snapchat messages to my kids a few times a week,” Linda Hecht Karmin, a mother of four, said. “They’re a great way to stay connected to my kids.”
As a result of increased parental presence on social networking sites, resources have been established as a source for people to seek parenting tips. In the aforementioned Pew study, nearly 59 percent of parents surveyed found useful advice while looking at social media content.
These new sources of guidance for parents are most commonly referred to as “mommy” and “daddy” blogs.
Two of these bloggers include Raquel Alderman and Cindy Goodman. Their site “Raising Teens” is an outlet to share their personal experiences from parenting to aid others in potentially difficult situations.
“I felt I needed other parents to know what I was dealing with and wanted and needed their support to get through raising a teenager,” Alderman said. “I wanted to help a mom or dad dealing—or struggling—with raising a teenager with the same situations I was tackling.”
Their blog may serve as a source of help for the parents that visit it, but how do their teens feel about the posts made about them?
“Our teens are aware we blog about them, but we don’t really call it to their attention,” Goodman said. “But we both try to be as respectful as possible.”
When not using the Internet to find information on parenting, parents will often use social media to connect to their children and share family updates with their various social circles.
“I probably post once or twice a month,” Hecht Karmin said. “Most of my posts are family-related. When I do post about my kids, the pictures are usually capturing happy or funny moments.”
Even though these networks allow family members to connect a new way, a potential problem is created when users overshare. More often than not, teens are blamed as the perpetrators in doing so—but what about parents?
“Oversharing life events on social media is put on a sliding scale of significance. Parents are no different in terms of how they want to share and be proud of their children,” Andrew Selepak, director of the master of arts in mass communication social media program at the University of Florida, said. “It’s more of a potentially socially embarrassing level, but it’s not anything that would hurt you from getting a job, getting into college or ruin relationships.”
The content shared on social media platforms is not based solely on significance, but what is appropriate. Avery Carr, a senior at Gary Comer, has two factors that can deem a post appropriate or not.
“I don’t post things that aren’t appropriate for the web—things that are illegal or can damage character,” he said.
Lisa Haeger, mother of Trinity junior Lauren Haeger-Montino, is active on both Facebook and Instagram. Despite the general tranquility between the mother-daughter pair on social media, they sometimes run into problems with oversharing, but have a mutual respect when it comes to removing posts.
“On occasion my mom likes to rant about parts of my life and she can get a little carried away,” Haeger-Montino said. “I tell her all the time if it is too much and she takes down any posts that I’m uncomfortable with.”
On the other hand, Carr feels a common understanding between him and his parents and doesn’t have trouble with the content they share online.
“My parents use Facebook and Twitter. I don’t feel like the details of my life are overshared because they understand what privacy is,” Carr said. “They don’t want their business to be everywhere, so they don’t share mine.”
When it comes to oversharing on behalf of teens, Selepak discusses the potential dangers that arise from what is being posted.
“Younger people are more likely to post risky things, but not on the major social networks,” Selepak said. “They’ll post more risky things on Snapchat, the more private messaging apps in which case they post pictures where they’re not fully clothed, doing drugs or engaging in other risky behavior.”
Whether or not teens enjoy having their parents on social media, it is essential for everyone to understand the danger that arises from oversharing.
“It’s two very different types of potential problems that are occurring on two different types of social platforms,” Selepak said. “The one by parents can be more socially embarrassing to an extent, but the ones then by teenagers can have much greater ramifications because of the things they are posting on these social platforms.”
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