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Hey Teens: Chances Are You’ll Regret Oversharing Information Online

Nearly 40 percent of internet users between the ages of 18-35 have regretted posting personal information about themselves, and 35 percent have regretted posting personal information about a friend or family member.

57 percent of 18-35-year-olds think people share too much about their personal thoughts and experiences, and nearly that many feel technology is robbing them of their privacy.

Additionally, just over half of respondents worry that friends or family will post something personal about them that they don’t want shared, according to a Euro RSCG Worldwide study titled “This Digital Life”[i] that surveyed consumers in 19 countries, including the U.S.

What’s more, it’s not just parents and grandparents that worry your privacy habits aren’t strong enough; even other teens and twenty-somethings believe youth are particularly careless about protecting personal information online.

Young people also overwhelmingly (66 percent) believe that other youth have no sense of personal privacy and are willing to post anything and everything about their lives.

Oversharing by the numbers

According to a survey conducted by Badoo[ii], American’s overshare:

There’s a reason to be concerned about oversharing

Beyond the potential for embarrassment, oversharing can have long-term consequences to your social life, your education and to your chances for employment.

While the personal information you share about yourself, your relationships and your family may seem harmless, consider the impact of sharing in these scenarios:

The examples could go on and on, but you get the picture. You’ve probably already shared your name, age, city and state. If you every said “today’s my birthday” or had someone congratulate you on your birthday, then that information is available… and the profile collecting all your personal information continues to expand.

It may help to think of your internet profile – not the one you created but the one created by companies, crooks and creeps – as a bucket.

Companies, schools, peers, the parents of a girl or boy you like, insurance groups, the police, criminals and more – you have no idea who is systematically collecting your personal data and how they’re planning to use it.

The good news is you can greatly control the amount of information you share online

Take control of your privacy and your online reputation by following a few basic principles:

  1. Review all your online content, and remove anything that could expose too much personal information, be an embarrassment to you in the future or be used to negatively impact your reputation. This includes deleting messages on your social network from friends if their comments could impact you.
  2. Ask your friends to remove any photos or comments that are on their sites that have the potential to cause you trouble.
  3. Prune your contact lists. If there are people you are sharing information with that you do not personally know and like, delete them.  Yes, this can cause some digital drama, but you do not want to give people access to your information unless you can fully trust them to be respectful and protective of you.
  4. Take time to evaluate what information you are willing to share, and what you are not willing to share, then before you push the publish button, review your content from this perspective. It is very easy to publish information but far more difficult to take it back once it’s been made public.
  5. Talk to your friends about your privacy boundaries, and ask them about their own. It is rude and disrespectful to post comments, share photos or videos, or in any way expose information about someone else that they are not fully comfortable with having shared. When in doubt, ask.  If someone doesn’t want to respect you and your privacy, they aren’t a real friend.

Lastly, it’s important to not only remove personal information and potentially negative information, you need to also build a positive online profile that shows others the best of you – whether that be potential friends, colleagues, employers, schools or family members.


[i] http://www.prosumer-report.com/blog/study-highlights-this-digital-life/

[ii] http://corp.badoo.com/entry/press/54/