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Worried That You're Oversharing? Try the Empty Case Challenge

November 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM

teens textingOversharing on social media can be a serious problem for your kids, as we've posted before. One of the problems with teaching your kids about oversharing online (or for that matter, recognizing if you're doing it yourself) is that sometimes it's hard to recognize that you're doing it.

Posting Without Thinking

Part of the reason kids and adults alike share so many things on social media is that it's so easy. Pulling out your phone to snap a picture, write a post, or click a few "likes" is such a simple action that it quickly becomes habit.

Habits are actions we do without thinking about them, and sometimes even without noticing them. This is great when a habit helps you do something positive, like developing routines to carry you efficiently through the day. It's not good when habits lead you to oversharing and obsessive social media use, because you don't even realize how often you're checking in.

How can you become aware of phone habits, and help your kids learn about theirs? Try the empty case challenge.

How It Works

To set up the challenge, choose a period of time when it's okay for everyone taking part not to carry a phone. Try to use at least a couple of hours, or longer for a bigger challenge. Take everyones' phones out of their cases and put the phones away somewhere safe and inaccessible to prevent cheating. Instead of the phone, put an index card inside the case, and then carry the case around as usual until the end of the challenge.

The rules after that are simple. Every time you reach for your phone, make a mark on the card instead. At the end of the challenge, count up how many times you tried to use your phone.

What to Do Next

If you use this challenge with your kids, talk to them at the end about the experience. Are they surprised by how often they wanted to use their phone? How did it feel when they missed their phones the first few times, compared to the last few at the end of the challenge?

Did they miss having their phones the whole time, or did they get used to not using them? Was there anything they wanted to put on social media during the challenge that they would think twice about now? Is there anything they still want to post on social media that happened during the challenge?

The challenge works best when the whole family participates together. This means you can talk honestly to your kids about your own experience by answering the same questions.

Becoming aware of habits is the first step to changing them. If you want to teach your kids how to avoid oversharing, showing them how easy it is to post without thinking is a positive first step.

                      think your child might be oversharing? Protect them from risky behavior. Try uKnowKids FREE for 30 days!                
Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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