A father shows his daughter and wife his iPad.What happens when you overshare as a parent on social media?

Ever thought that you might be putting your kids at risk? Many of today’s helicopter parents are failing to observe a no-fly zone around their own children. And, even after warning their children about the risks of oversharing, some parents can actually be the worst offenders.

A recent study from the University of Michigan shows that parental oversharing online and in social media may present a long-term health and safety risk for their children—information that stays with the child for life.

According to U of M, some of social media’s greatest stars aren’t even old enough to tweet. Pictures of kids playing dress up, having meltdowns and even in the bathtub adorn Facebook walls everywhere these days. Diapered toddlers dancing to Beyonce and Taylor Swift rack up YouTube views while countless blogs share stories about everything from potty training to preschool struggles.

As a parent, it’s important to know how far is too far when it comes to crossing the boundaries between private and public life. Especially when it comes to social media.

Adelle Cadieux, PsyD, pediatric psychologist with Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, advises that a little restraint and respect for the child’s privacy—present and future—may be in order. She recommends that parents ask themselves the following questions before posting to social media:

  • Is this something my child would be embarrassed about if he or she knew I was posting this?
  • Would this be information that would be embarrassing or cause harm to my child in the future?
  • How would I feel if someone shared this about me?
  • Am I sharing information that others need to know?
  • How would I or my child feel if this information was known outside of family and friends?

“Trust is an important part of the parent-child relationship,” Dr. Cadieux said. “Just as the parent’s trust in the child is impacted by the child’s behavior, the child’s trust in the parent is impacted by the parent’s behavior.”

Once that trust is exploited, parents could have a difficult time keeping tabs on their child as he or she grows.

“If parents have a history of oversharing stories and photos from when the child is younger, the teen could be even more reluctant to share, making the parent’s job of knowing what’s going on with their teen even harder,” she said.

Dr. Cadieux also mentioned that parents need to keep in mind that what they share could be shared outside the parents’ circle of friends and family. Those photos, stories or information could be used in ways the parents did not intend.

Good rule of thumb: If you catch yourself thinking twice about posting something, stick with your gut reaction and hold off on sharing online.