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"Sharenting": How much is too much?

Children growing online reputation by two years old!

As more and more Americans share, tweet, and post on social media, their children are also being taken along for the ride. Are you one of those parents who shares photos of every milestone in your children's lives? On average, parents have shared about one thousand photos of their children by age five.

Another interesting note, 92 percent of children have an online presence by their SECOND birthday. That's a lot of photos, tweets, and Instagrams about
your children.

"We've never seen a generation of parents that have so publicly talked about their children and gone through all of the milestones of their children's lives," said Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center.

Some parents might overshare. "There are some people who are turned off by learning too much information about the little darlings in other people's lives," he added.

There's also a risk factor depending on how closely you protect those photos. If your social media settings aren't carefully set, more people might be seeing your children's photos than intended. And, don't forget the more you share about your life online, someone could be watching, learning details about your
daily routine.

Eventually, your child will want to have some control over their online presence. As they get older, they may not appreciate you posting photos of their every move. It's certainly something that will have to be negotiated as your children get older. Experts say it's not clear what the impact of this social media immersion will have on young people.

"The first generation of teenagers really that's gone through having so much technology just embedded in every relationship that matters. What we don't know yet is what this long term means for our culture," said Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center.

Kids and Social Media: What To Do?

As long as your children are underage, it's your responsibility to guide them and help them deal with social media and give them a common sense foundation to deal with all the elements they might encounter through the phone, tablet, or computer. Here's a list to get you started about how to approach the social media life of a child.

1) Get to Know The Technology: It may seem funny that your child is better on the computer than you, but if you don't have a decent working knowledge of the technology your children are using, it will be easier for them to get around any rules you set.

2) Set The Ground Rules: Facebook forbids children under 13 from having a profile, but the company is not able to verify each user. As a parent, you should not allow children younger than 13 to have a profile. Don't enable them by helping them to break the rules, and set your own guidelines for each social media site.

3) Check Privacy Settings: Make sure your children are setting up their accounts to limit what they share as much as possible.

4) Use Filtering Software to track what your kids are doing online.

5) Keep the computer in a family area of the home. Of course, it's much harder to monitor their use of smart phones, but if you notice they're spending too much time on the phone, looking secretive, it may be something that bears further investigation.

6) Tell your children to avoid questionnaires and contests. The online questions can be used as a way to glean personal information about your child, without them realizing how much they are sharing.

7) Monitor the photos your children are sharing online. Are they appropriate? Teach them what is appropriate and what might not be.

8) Set a good example, especially if your children can see what you're doing online. You cannot tell your children to don one thing and then let them see you doing the exact opposite.

9) Teach kids about having an online reputation. It's never early to start telling them that what they post online could live on forever and if they wouldn't want to see that photo in 5 or 10 years, don't post it now!

10) Have frank discussions about online dangers. Children should understand not everyone is what they seem online. They cannot accept people who approach them at face value. It's probably worth discussing if they should be communicating with anyone they don't know in real life, in their social media world.


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