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The 4 Deadly Sins of Online Sharing


Parents are constantly telling their children, and especially teenagers, "think before you post." However, are we walking the talk?

Not too long ago I wrote, Facebook Is Not A Diary for the HuffPost and this story went viral. It was about a single mother of two who went on a rant about her online dating—sharing things that the world really didn't need to know, especially her children. It seems to hit a nerve.

Shortly thereafter there was a video that went viral too, called, What's On Your Mind?, and is still very relevant today. In it an adult goes through his day—sharing, or oversharing, about what he is doing, feeling, and even making things up as he goes along (watch it below). Isn’t that what many do on social media?

Remember, our kids are watching our every keystroke. And those who overshare are at higher risk of being digitally shamed than those who use discretion when posting.

In Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate we offer the following guidelines to keep you from committing any of the four deadly sins of over-sharing:

1. Sharing Much Too Much

It’s about time we realize that not everything we do in our life needs to be documented online. Many of us

have become addicted to document­ing practically every breath we take on social media, from eating a doughnut to taking a train ride. Is it any wonder that overshare was The Chambers Dictionary’s word of the year in 2014? Even digitally savvy teens think people are divulging TMI online. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 88 percent of teen social media users agreed that people share too much of themselves on social media. Everyone needs to understand the importance of social sharing for your platform—versus oversharing for your ego. A 2015 UCLA study revealed that people who overshare on social media are at a higher risk of being cyber-shamed. This study suggests oversharing of personal information leads bystanders to blame and not feel for the victim.

2. Sharing Inappropriate Material

The Internet is unfor­giving. Before texting, tweeting, emailing, posting, or sharing anything, consider how you’d feel if your words or images went viral. Is your human need for approval, for eliciting likes and retweets, driving you to share question­able material? Does the content convey how you truly want to be perceived? You should have zero expectation of privacy when it comes to cyberspace.

3. Sharing in Haste

People often refer to the phrase, “Think before you post.” I say, “Pause.” It only takes a second to post—and 60 seconds to pause. Take that minute to consider that post before you hit send. Picture yourself in that photo or receiving that email. Is this something that could be embarrassing or humiliating at a later date? Does it reveal too much information? Always ask the permission of others who are in the photo, especially with children, before posting it, and never assume that they have given you permission unless they have. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times—think before you post—but that hasn’t stopped many of us from making digital blunders.

shocked with social media

4. Sharing With The Wrong People:

You should frequently review the settings on your social media accounts and make sure you actually know who are connecting with. Who’s in your Facebook friends and cell-phone contact lists? Do you actually know them? Would you be embar­rassed if you accidentally butt-dialed one of them? In 2010, Jimmy Kimmel dubbed November 17 National Unfriend Day, a time to review your contact list and weed out your true friends from your virtual acquaintances. Just because you’ve set your privacy settings as high as possible doesn’t mean you are 100 percent secure from trolls or a friend turned foe. You may believe that you’re only sharing this with your core group, but remember, you don’t always have control over what photos others choose to take and share.

The next time you post online, consider the 3 C's of social behavior online:

  • Conduct: Control yourself. There's a person on the other side of the screen.

  • Content: Limit your sharing. Will it embarrass or humiliate your or someone?

  • Caring: Post with empathy.

Sue Scheff is the author, with Melissa Schorr, of the newly released "Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate." In addition to authoring two other books, she is the founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts. You can follow her on Twitter and join her on Facebook. She blogs on She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, HuffPost, Family Online Safety Institute, Dr. Greene and many others. Sue Scheff is regularly noted in media such as Washington Post, CNN, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Newsweek and others as well as been on ABC 20/20, Anderson Cooper, Rachael Ray, Katie Couric and more for CyberSafety Advocacy.

#digitalreputation #onlinereputation #shamenation #cyberbullying

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