Information On Social Networks: How Much Is Too Much?

Something has been weighing on my mind lately, and finally reached a tipping point.

On one of my social networks, I have a friend that innocently posts daily nasal condition updates: runny, stuffy, sloshy, etc. The first day it was odd. The second, extremely uncomfortable. The third, just plain embarrassing (…and what does sloshy even mean?). By the fourth day, I was tempted to de-friend this contact.

Another contact of mine discovered location based updates last week, and they were making sure we all knew where they were, every minute of the day.

That is what I call too much information – I don’t care that your nose is runny, or that you are at the grocery store. Most others probably don’t either. In fact, providing too much information is the top reason people de-friend others on social networking sites.

But, even more disturbing than “TMI” is the amount of inappropriate information I see posted on social networks daily.

Perhaps that’s because I have a unique vantage point, and very real examples most people never see. One of the things we do here at ScuttlePad is review and approve every photo that is uploaded by kids. Real humans do it – the process is discussed here: ScuttlePad: The Kids Social Networking Safety Net.

It’s pretty straightforward. Still, every once in awhile we see a profile or photo come through that sparks a group discussion, and its appropriateness seems to be “a gray area.” I am not referring to sexual photos. These are photos that are not glaringly inappropriate, yet something about them just doesn’t seem right for public display.

It’s the family shot where a few of the younger children are not completely clothed, or the family beach shot where the swimsuits aren’t covering as much as one would expect.

Our discussion often starts: “I would never let my child post a picture like this. What do you think?” Then we debate and determine what is most appropriate.

Remember, when you post online, that some pictures only belong in family albums. Just because you can post doesn’t mean you should. As with too much information, just because you can say it, doesn’t mean you do need to tell the entire world.

So I offer a tip for parents: next time your kid wants to upload a photo or update their status, pretend you had to review and approve the posting as a third-party observer, and see if you’d react differently.

I think your response will shock you.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 11th, 2010 at 8:37 pm and is filed under Internet Safety Tips, Social Networking for Kids. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.