Social Media and Parenting 2.0 (Overexposed)

After my last article on subject of social media’s affect of  our kids, I spent a while pondering the long term affects of exposing our children on the internet. We talk about Business to Business and Business to Customer marketing all the time in Social Media, but what about Parent to Child marketing? In 7-9 years, when Anthony and Ethan are trying to get into college, what is going to be out there on the net about them? Will the our boys be using Social Media to market themselves to colleges? You can be sure that the colleges and business will be using it to market to our children.

Our daughter, Keira has been involved in Social Media from 10 weeks in the womb. Mommy tweeted throughout the pregnancy, the birth and all the silly first moments on Keira’s own twitter account. There are more pictures of my children in photo albums online than I have in paper photo albums. This all leads me to wonder if my children are overexposed on the net. While they only get an hour of computer time each day, the amount of information about them on the internet is longer than some books.

Anthony, Ethan and Keira are all going to grow up with this presence on the world wide web. What will that be like for them, knowing that parts of their entire life are floating out there for anyone to find? Some of us (showing my age here) remember the days of CompuServe and BBSes. Yet, as we grew up, our interactions on those platforms slowly died away. When my boys turn 21 and start looking for a job, could they be Googled by their possible future employer? Are they going to find all the silly family photos, Facebook pages, Good-reads, and maybe even this article? Will employers have some kind of system that will red flag certain types of content for further evaluation, and base a salary and job position on how well they maintained their internet presence? Or could they lose a chance at a job when the boss finds photos of them and their friends being too social?

While I love talking about my kids and sharing photos and stories of the silly events that happen in our life, I’m left wondering if maybe it’s too much. What are your thoughts on children’s exposure on the internet?

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda Boitson
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:04:43

    I just finished some great bathroom reading from Reader’s Digest about a family that went computer free at home for 6 months. They still allowed their kids to use computers at the library and friend’s homes to do homework, but that was it! I’ll try to remember the article on Wednesday. It truly has me contemplating how much I want to live my life online, and how much I am missing out on living my life in person.

    Reply

  2. lostonthebeltway
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:31:45

    I’m a web developer and I live my life online. I can’t get rid of my computer. But, I know when to put it away. That being said, I think children and adults need a certain amount of mystery to their lives. Many of my cousins will brag about drinking and pot on their facebook. Another cousin will they there parent: Hey Mom, did you know so-and-so got totally wasted and got a dui? My two aunts will talk to each other and the cousins will get upset because one snitched on the other.

    I also think kids need a certain right to brag about their accomplishments. If we tell that our kids rode a bike without training wheels online, they lose the right to brag about it to aunts, cousins, neighbors, friends etc…

    Reply

    • Jason Deeds
      Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:51:42

      Lostonthebeltway,

      I completely understand how sharing ones drinking habits on the internet can cause family problems. In all seriousness though, maybe those cousins are learning a lesson that they don’t need to put EVERYTHING on the internet. I just hope they don’t destroy their friendships with the other cousins in learning that lesson.

      I’ll admit I was completely against Facebook for a long time. I finally had to get an account to monitor my work’s Facebook account. I think I talk and interact with my family 80% of whom live 3,000 miles away more now they I ever did before. It is the ease of which I can just check and see what they are up to. So as much as I hate certain aspects of Facebook (cough farmville cough) I think it has brought me closer to my long distance family.

      In regards to bragging, I think you are right, they need to be able to tell their stories too. Trust me my kids tell everyone they see about Everything!

      Thank you for your comments. 🙂 I love hearing all of them.

      Reply

  3. Jason Deeds
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:43:20

    Brenda,

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines. The next article in this series is called “always on – unplug your child, and yourself.” We are pretty good about monitoring the amount time the boys are on the computer / TV. I think this summer, besides updating their good reads account, I’m going to have the boys outside and playing as much as possible.

    In my own life, especially with writing, I’ve notice that having access to the internet and the TV have destroyed what could have been many productive hours spent writing. I agree with the need to unplug. It think this is why so many writers have a place like a writing shack. Mine with be in the basement, on a computer with no internet. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Annonymous
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:13:02

    I often wonder how many divorces social media has either caused or contributed to. I am in the process of getting divorced and a big part of it is because my husband was always on twitter or Facebook instead of spending time with my daughter and I. And when he would spend time with us he still had all the bells and whistles set to go off when someone mentioned him, when he got an email, when he got an RT, etc, etc.

    I think sometimes things just get taken too far. Too many people are living their lives online now. I try to go online as little as possible so I can focus my attention on my daughter.

    Now the good part of social media is being able to easily share and communicate with friends and relatives around the country. And there are many other good uses for business, etc but I was mainly focusing on family.

    Reply

    • jasondeeds
      Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:44:49

      first I’m sorry you are going through this trying time. Any relationship that dissolves unhappily is painful.

      It sounds like your spouse was dealing with addiction. I don’t doubt that Social Media will one day be seen as an addiction. When maintaining ones online presence outweighs maintaining the communication with the family there is a serious problem.

      We seem to be falling pray to our need for constant updates, not only from CNN and Weather Channel but from everyone we know. I wont be surprised if we start to see a backlash someday. Anti-Social Media.

      Sounds like their is a bigger article in here. Social Media and it’s Effects on the family structure.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Reply

  5. Jim Stoltzfus
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:40:50

    Hi Jason,

    You bring up some good points. As a web-savvy parent of 3 young ones, I try to look at social media sites as a modern version of a baby album. I document only the heartwarming items for our family to look back on and for family those friends who are interested to share in. I’ve often received comments from geographically distant friends and family that say how much they appreciate all of our kids-say-the-darnedest-things posts on Facebook. I just try to keep in check my urge to whip out my phone every time my kids say something to me (instead of just having a normal conversation with them).

    With my oldest in first grade, I don’t yet have many issues around unplugging them. They’re still learning the basics of using a computer and are only vaguely aware of social media. As they get older, I’ll be interested to see how much of a challenge it will be for our family to find that balance between embracing and being consumed by emerging technologies.

    Reply

    • jasondeeds
      Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:55:41

      Jim –

      That’s how I see it. With nearly 80% of my family living at least 1,000 miles from me I like to use social media as a tool to allow them to gain insight into our domestic life.

      The second reason I use it is to document for myself the kids development and changes. My memory has never been the best. As everyone knows if i don’t write it down I wont remember it. So this is my way of persevering those memories. An online Time Capsule of sorts.

      Our two boys are Techno dweebs. If it’s Electronic they want it. We only allow them an hour of TV, or Computer a day. I know that rule wont last forever, but I’m set against any TV’s or Computers in their bedrooms. Maybe a Kindle some day. 🙂

      Thanks for the comments.

      Reply

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