Although it may not seem like it, we have some control about how much of ourselves we want to put online. Even with all the accounts that we may have, we might not post on all of them, if post on some of them at all. We can create our own personas online and choose what we reveal and do not reveal about ourselves, and share something as simple as what we ate that day to a recent breakup in detail.
There is a lot of criticism from adults about how adolescents use social media. One of them is how youths put “everything online” and think that they don’t have a filter on social media, putting every last fact about them and the things they’re going through for the entire world to see.
But do adolescents think that they overshare? How much of themselves do they actually put online? Do they think that their peers do? Little has been discussed about how adolescents themselves feel about privacy online, but the conversation is still there. While a study found that nearly all teenagers have posted a photo of themselves and about 70% post the name of where they go to school, 60% of teenagers have private accounts. Having private or “locked” accounts gives them the ability to control who sees what information, and if they do overshare, they’re doing it with a group of people that they may feel closer to or trust.
Adolescents also appear to share less about themselves the longer that they use social media. While 75% of adolescents in one survey said that they spend the same amount of time on social media compared to a year ago, more than half said they don’t share as much information. They do feel that their peers have a tendency to overshare, but when it comes to things like personal health information, adolescents have a tendency to become a lot more selective about what they want to share. This could include mental health issues: someone may make a post stating that they’re having a bad mental health day, or they may only DM this to a close friend.
All of this depends on what one considers to be “oversharing” though. For example, oversharing for someone may be putting the name of a restaurant where they had a meal, but someone else may have no problem posting about what they did that day, tagging each place that they visited.
Privacy may seem like a black and white issue at first, but the line can be blurred pretty easily. Everyone’s definition of privacy may be different, and people can have different feelings on it depending on what generation they belong to and their experience and longevity on social media. Some may see oversharing as making themselves come across as too vulnerable, but others may see it as therapeutic. Ultimately, it depends on the person to determine how much they want to share about themselves and what they consider to be safe.
At the very least though, no one should be putting anything like credit card information or their social security number online. It’s dangerous and definitely way too much information.
How many social media accounts do you have? Do you think that you or your peers overshare? What do you think counts as oversharing?