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10+ Ways Students Can Avoid Oversharing Online

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10+ Ways Students Can Avoid Oversharing Online

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When teens first start gaining access to social media, one of the most common mistakes they make is oversharing online. Without having a solid understanding of what is and is not appropriate to post, they are at risk of posting something that could have a negative impact on their reputation. Parents and educators need to ensure that children are properly equipped to make good decisions online. It’s imperative students understand positive digital etiquette and the impact oversharing online can have on their reputation.

How can you make sure your students know what to post on social media before they ever get access to it? We asked the experts to share their best tips to help students learn to avoid oversharing online and on social media.

1. Help students find outlets other than social media

Karen Gross, Author; Educational Commentator, Senior Counsel, Finn Partners

Karen Gross headshot
Karen Gross

Students should understand:

  • The differences between sharing in person and online are significant: one has temporality on its side; the other has permanence. This distinction helps to show how this permanence occurs
  • The old adage, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” has meaning. If a student reverses roles and thinks about a friend oversharing or a friend taking this student’s message and sharing it with others, that evaluation can curb oversharing
  • Create other outlets for students to share with each other and the larger community. If learning is in person, allow for anonymous sharing through chalk boards or post-notes. If learning is online, share a space where people can post thoughts (decent and not vituperative) anonymously, recognizing that this is NOT the place for nastiness or discrimination
  • Recognize why the student is oversharing and how that need can be met in other ways: by getting together with a close friend, using FaceTime, or engaging in other online conversations that are not recorded or rendered permanent

2. Be wary of third-party apps

Bradley Keys, Marketing Director, PatchMD

Bradley Keys headshot
Bradley Keys

There are a few ways students can avoid oversharing, but these are the three most important ones that must be kept in mind:

  • House tours and bedroom photos are dangerous. Photos and videos taken inside your house must be posted with caution. It can reveal the layout of your home, making it easier for thieves to find their way around and locate your valuables. Photos in your bedroom could be potentially dangerous as well, especially if there are pieces of jewelry and other valuables that can attract lawbreakers
  • Keep your profiles private for close friends only. Students must make sure they have their profiles locked down, only visible to people they know because, otherwise, their posts would be visible to potential hackers, stalkers, and thieves
  • Be cautious of third-party apps. You would often see intriguing quizzes on Facebook such as “What kind of cake are you?” or “What is the hidden meaning of your name?” This often leads to a pop-up that says an app is asking for access to your profile details and a bunch of other stuff. While this can be harmless, there’s always the risk that they might be from phishing sites that can gather information about you. If you’re the oversharer type, there’s a security risk with that

3. The Granny Test is always the best

Christy Garnhart, Assistant Principal

Christy Garnhart headshot
Christy Garnhart

The best way to teach children how to not overshare on the internet is to ask them to pretend to share it in real life. This tactic should be adjusted based on the developmental age of the child. For example, ask a junior high student, “Would you stand up in the middle of lunch and read your post to the entire cafeteria?” For high school students who are gearing up to apply to college, say “Would you want that picture to be seen by the admissions committee?”

The tried and true “Granny Test” is perfect to use with younger children. Encourage them to pretend that their sweet little granny was looking over their shoulder while they typed. Would she like what they wrote? When using this tactic, sometimes an “I don’t like my granny!” will pop up. Use their favorite professional athlete, a superhero, or another respected adult.

4. If you don’t want it to be a headline in a newspaper, don’t post

Florence Lehr, ARTriculate

Florence Lehr headshot
Florence Lehr

As an independent college advisor, I ALWAYS raise this question with my students. The advice I always give is that they need to curate their social media because colleges can, and some do, search social media as no college wants problematic students on their campuses. Harvard has actually rescinded the acceptances of students over racist memes they found on their social media accounts.

My rule of thumb is that if you don’t want it posted on the front page of your local paper, or wouldn’t send it to your grandmother, don’t post it on social media.

5. Hide the phone and question your actions before hitting post

Ben Worthington, Founder and Owner, IELTS Podcast

Ben Worthington headshot
Ben Worthington

Hide the Phone! Never ever vent, share, or post when angry or emotional. Hide the phone and let yourself cool down first. Give yourself 10 minutes to cool down. You will probably spot a few typos too.

Educate yourself. Before sharing, understand how the algorithms are working. They are engineered to trigger you, to get an emotional response. If you react by sharing, you are falling into their plan. The services are free because you are the product being sold.

Question your actions. Ask yourself a few questions before sharing:

  • Could any group be hurt by sharing this video?
  • Does anyone benefit from sharing this material?

6. Ask yourself a simple question before posting

Cindy Muchnick headshot
Cindy Muchnick

Cindy Muchnick, Author, Co-Author, Speaker, and Educational Consultant

Posting text or photos on digital media is like getting a permanent tattoo. The words you write—whether on a quick Snapchat or in an Instagram post or in a “private” text message—are anything but quick and private. Screenshots can be taken on anything you post there, making everything that you think is private actually public. Ask yourself if you are okay with your post being online forever before putting it online.

7. Do a clean up of your network

LaNysha Adams, Chief Technology Officer, Edlinguist Solutions

laNysha Adams headshot
LaNysha Adams

To avoid oversharing on social media, the best tactic to remember is: you are who you associate with. You may have heard the common notion that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” In fact, we are the average of all the people that surround us online and in-real-life.

The purpose of a social network is to build one’s digital footprint right now, but it will live on in perpetuity unless it is deleted. Personal identity info should stay off all platforms and checking-in with locations can be dangerous, since some may try and use it as a tracking device! To help, it’s good to conduct an audit of who’s who in your network and to answer questions like, “How are they helping to elevate me?” After the audit, being mindful of the kind of content you post and why is key.

8. Address oversharing like the issue it is

Veronica Miller, Cybersecurity Expert, VPNoverview

Veronica Miller headshot
Veronica Miller

Since students can be more impulsive than adults, they need to be taught to exercise mindfulness before asking them to shun social media. There’s not much in the name of strategy or resources that we can do to break the new means of connectivity that students are now so attached to. Sharing on various social media platforms gives them an outlet and a platform to showcase their emotions and activities. Most of the time this is damaging, but for some teens and students, this is the way to go.

Much like controlling bullying and peer pressure at school, oversharing on social media needs to be addressed like an issue. We need to instill habits and values among children of all ages to act responsibly and be mindful of all that they are saying on their “personal and private” social profiles. They must know how to protect personally identifiable information and make informed decisions about where to share this data and with whom.

Lessons in cyber safety and cyberbullying need to be made part of ongoing curricula, and students must be prepared to deal with it like a compulsory social issue. Every student must be encouraged to have an opinion about social media and related issues, and understand how every action on social media has a profound impact on others in their community.

9. Remind students to post cautiously on social media

Sage Singleton, SafeWise

Sage Singlton headshot
Sage Singleton

It’s essential for students to be savvy and cautious when posting to social media. While we all want to post about our new college dorm room, classroom, or campus, it’s important to post with caution. Social media platforms give everyone, including strangers, a clear view into your world and location, leaving you vulnerable and exposed. Stay away from checking-in or posting your address or location on social media.

10. Encourage students to perform a yearly spring cleaning of their social media

Sarah Donawerth, Social Media Manager

Sarah Donawerth headshot
Sarah Donawerth

The role of social media should be a way of connecting friends and sharing your everyday lives with each other. However, students should remember that social media is forever. Facebook now shares memories from your past posts. What will you want to see from your feed in a year? 5 years? 10 years? If you don’t want to see your sad face emoji status in 10 years, then you shouldn’t be sharing it now. If you really need to share about your breakup or the drama at school, make use of text messages to contact a friend that you can lean on. That way, you’re getting advice and comfort from a real person that you know, rather than waiting for an anonymous internet user to chime in on your personal life.

Also, consider doing a once-a-year spring cleaning of your social media. If you’ve found that you tend to overshare and may not want those posts to represent you online, then go back and delete anything that you are not proud of. Social media should be a way to preserve your happiest/funniest/best memories, not your worst. Although it’s better not to overshare in the first place, it’s never too late to reel it back in!

11. Remind students that it only takes one data breach to have personal info open to the public

Cristina Escalante, The SilverLogic

Cristina Escalante headshot
Cristina Escalante

Consciously log out of Facebook after you check it. This prevents you from getting sucked in, should you instinctively open Facebook. Schedule a social media-free day or evening during your week to practice living without constantly status checking and updating. Apps like RescueTime are great for setting time limits on desktop computers, while Kidtrol is effective when setting limits on apps on iOS devices.

Before sharing anything, remind yourself that anyone working at the platform you’re posting on can access all of your pictures, read your private messages, and knows your phone number and email address. We’re all one data breach away from having our personal data open to the general public.

Student Branding Academy: How good students can fix bad Google results (to get into their dream college/internship) SmartSocial.com

Conclusion

The content you post on social media is tied to your digital footprint. Educating students about the risks of oversharing and the importance of maintaining a positive online presence is essential. Regular discussions about oversharing, digital etiquette, privacy, and the impact of social media on personal and future professional lives can empower teens to make informed and responsible choices.

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Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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