Social media can serve as a welcome sounding board and resource for parents, according to the latest national University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital survey. But it can also cause concern, say three-fourths of parents surveyed.

Seventy-four percent of the survey's respondents said they know of another parent who has shared too much information about a child on social media, including parents who gave embarrassing information about a child (56 percent), offered personal information that could identify a child’s location (51 percent), or shared inappropriate photos of a child (27 percent).

Also See: EHRs Threaten Confidentiality of Adolescent Healthcare

“By the time children are old enough to use social media themselves many already have a digital identity created for them by their parents,” said Sarah J. Clark, associate director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health and associate research scientist in the U-M Department of Pediatrics.

“Sharing the joys and challenges of parenthood and documenting children’s lives publicly has become a social norm so we wanted to better understand the benefits and cons of these experiences. On one hand, social media offers today’s parents an outlet they find incredibly useful. On the other hand, some are concerned that oversharing may pose safety and privacy risks for their children.”

Nearly 70 percent of parents said they use social media to get advice from other more experienced parents and 62 percent said it helped them worry less. However, parents also recognized potential pitfalls of sharing information about their children, with nearly two-thirds concerned someone would learn private information about their child or share photos of their child. More than half also worried that when older, their child may be embarrassed by what was shared.

“There’s potential for the line between sharing and oversharing to get blurred,” Clark said. “Parents may share information that their child finds embarrassing or too personal when they’re older but once it’s out there, it’s hard to undo. The child won’t have much control over where it ends up or who sees it.”

The full report is available here

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