This year, give the gift of not “oversharing.”
This holiday season, talk with the kids about keeping these guidelines in mind when it comes to sharing online.
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’Tis the season for sweatered selfies, goofy group shots and videos of your family’s trips to exotic destinations around the world. But before uploading posts that include friends and loved ones to your favorite social network, it’s important to consider whether some pictures, photos or messages make sense to share. It’s normal to want to give friends a window into our world around this special time of year. However, it’s also important to observe a few basic rules when it comes to social network etiquette and safety—and consider the unique context that we find ourselves operating within in a still COVID-19-tinged world.
As a futurist and bestselling author of books like “Parenting High-Tech Kids,” I’m often asked: What rules of conduct should families be observing when it comes to social networks and online exchanges? Following, you’ll find expert hints, tips and advice that can help you and your children be better digital citizens this holiday season, communicate more effectively online and know what’s safe to share.
Keep your vacation location under wraps and wait to post holiday photos until you’re back at home, so it’s not obvious to opportunists that your house is empty. Rather than advertise when you’re away and where you’re off to, wait to share those photos until you’re back home. Remember: The holiday season is often prime time for thieves (remember the plot to “Home Alone”?), and there’s no need to advertise that your property is vacant.
Be respectful of others’ images and their wishes concerning the sharing of children’s information. Doing dinner at Aunt Sue’s or your sister-in-law’s? Be sure to get her permission before posting videos and pics of you and the cousins (she might not be OK with it). Remember: Not everyone is comfortable sharing information about their kids online or giving random bystanders an inside view of their home.
Don’t post photos, videos or messages that may paint yourself or family members in an embarrassing, unflattering or controversial light. As a general rule of thumb, silly is OK (think goofy holiday sweaters and funny faces), spicy is not (keep cameras off when uncles break out the eggnog or Junior decides to zoom around in his Underoos). If a subject raises even the slightest question in your mind, it’s best to just delete it before hitting the post, tweet or share button.
Avoid tagging others in photos, videos, comments, etc., without getting their OK first. Not everyone’s comfortable putting themselves out there and sharing how they’ve been decking the halls (or doing Cancún) in real time. Likewise, tagging others can be seen as a sign of their interest or endorsement—and the friends who don’t have the same joy for the holiday as you might not find the local holiday parade quite as enthralling.
Remember to set sharing permissions on any posts to make sure you’re not blasting them out to strangers. Restricting posts to friends, family members and acquaintances is a much better idea than leaving them open for the entire world to see. Thankfully, many popular social networks let you choose your audience. Typically, these privacy limits can either be configured as a default in settings menus or on posts themselves. Likewise, you’ll also want to keep your social media account locked down tight in general: Where possible, set it to private, so you aren’t sharing every detail of your life with random strangers.
Turn off geotracking capabilities so you aren’t broadcasting your location to the world. We get it: It’s fun to post photos, videos and stories featuring your latest globe-trotting escapades, and to swap stories with others who’ve visited similar destinations. But you may not want the world to know when you’re hitting the mall to see Santa or hopping a jet to skip dinner with the in-laws because you’re (ahem) “sick.” Just say no to movement-monitoring capabilities, which you can switch off in social networks directly or from your smartphone’s location services or settings menu. Pro tip: That means you shouldn’t be choosing to “check in” at specific locales online—which others can see—either.
Celebrate the spirit of the holiday season and bringing joy to others. The holidays are a joyous time for many but equally stressful for others. However, it’s important to stay upbeat on social networks. That’s because negativity never reflects well online—especially as digital exchanges often lack human expression, subtle nuance and context. Remind kids to keep a positive and cheerful attitude (a good life lesson in general) and consider how messages might be perceived before they post. Taking a moment to put yourselves in others’ shoes and exercise a little empathy can go a long way to keeping spirits bright.
Finally, remind kids to unplug once in a while and shut off devices when they’re in the company of others. As fun as chatting and playing online can be, it’s no substitute for spending quality time face to face with friends and loved ones. In the meantime, here’s wishing you a joyous and wonderful holiday season. May you have many festive and fun adventures online!
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