Parents’ social media habits are teaching children the wrong lessons

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Many of today’s young teens were born in an era before social media. By the time they entered preschool, most of their parents had Facebook accounts. And many parents — new to social media — excitedly shared their children’s personal and embarrassing stories. I have written in the past about how parents must consider the effect this sharing has on a child’s psychological development. Children model the behavior of their parents, and when parents constantly share personal details about their children’s lives, and then monitor their posts for likes and followers, children take note. While most parents have their children’s best interests at heart when they share personal stories on social media, there is little guidance to help them navigate parenting in the digital age.

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Everyone Makes Mistakes: Teaching Kids How to Fix Things When Texting Goes Awry

Instagram, texting, kids and cellphones, tweens and smartphones, friendship

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As parents or teachers we can get too focused on PREVENTING digital mistakes that can ruin friendships and reputations. We need to offer mentorship to our kids on how to repair things (when possible). We can model this in our own social media lives.

In my student workshops, I ask kids to brainstorm about how to correct such a mistake. A common problem is an “overshare,” where they have shared something too personal about themselves. Another is when your child shares a friend’s good news—or even a secret.

They know that they can’t put the overshare or secret “back in the box,” but kids’ instincts are to try to limit the damage. Quickly. In these workshops, they suggest taking down the offending post, deleting the picture, and apologizing, or at least letting people know that it was a mistake.

But how can they make it right? In many settings, from youth groups to religious schools to public schools student propose solutions that are concerning or ill-advised. For example,  many kids will try to “spread some lies” to cover up when they’ve shared someone’s secret and that person is upset with them. Another bad idea: “I’ll let them get revenge.For example: I’ll let my friend spread a rumor about me. As a parent and educator, I find myself shaking my head! But,  when embroiled in a social error, kids feel an urgency to take further steps to fix it “for good,” quickly.

These problem-solving techniques came from 5th and 6th graders who are just learning how to negotiate complicated social relationships. Many of these kids are just getting their first communication device, which adds another layer of complexity to the equation. It is important to look at where these kids are developmentally when we consider getting them a smartphone.

We have to help kids understand that rumors, lies, and revenge strategies just exacerbate the situation. Kids are focused on the immediate issue, and often have trouble seeing the larger picture. Sometimes when the parameters of trust in a relationship change, it takes time to fix—and your child can actually make it worse by trying to fix it in one gesture.

Woman sues parents for sharing embarrassing childhood photos

Woman sues parents for sharing embarrassing childhood photos

Excerpt from this article (and this has sparked discussions elsewhere about how this could be the first of many such lawsuits as the children of mommybloggers, who had every embarrassing personal detail shared with the worldwide web, start to come of age):

A 18-year-old woman from Carinthia is suing her parents for posting photos of her on Facebook without her consent.

She claims that since 2009 they have made her life a misery by constantly posting photos of her, including embarrassing and intimate images from her childhood.

…The shared images include baby pictures of her having her nappy changed and later potty training pictures.

…Austrian privacy laws when it comes to social media are not as strict as some other countries – for example in France, anyone convicted of publishing and distributing images of another person without their consent can face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to €45,000. This would apply to parents publishing images of their children too.

I Love You, But Our Happiness Doesn’t Fit My Personal Brand’s Narrative Strategy.

McSweeneysBrand.JPG

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If I want to have a strong brand narrative, my “voice” has to be consistent across all distribution channels. So, yes, that does mean captioning Instagram photos of us with “If I had a time machine I would change everything. EVERYTHING.” And yes, that does mean that when I check into our favorite restaurant on Facebook the caption is just that straight-line-mouth emoticon. And, yes again, that even means pinning cross-stitch patterns that say STARING INTO THE ENDLESS BLACK VOID on my Pinterest page. That’s just strong brand equity common sense.

Facebook etiquette – some simple guidelines

CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses during the Facebook f8 conference

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…Here’s our handy 10-point etiquette guide to “liking” stuff on social networks.

1 | Holiday snaps

Show-offy pics of beaches, infinity pools, sundowner cocktails or hotdog legs – especially if accompanied by a “Not a bad view this morning” or “My office for the week” caption – should, on no account, be liked. It just encourages them. Instead, leave a “Don’t worry about the weather forecast and try to enjoy yourself!”-style comment to induce anxiety and dial down their smugness.

2 | How far they’ve just run/swum/cycled

Use the comments to remind them they used to be fun. Follow with a winky face emoji to pretend you’re joking.

 

The Right to Privacy for Children Online

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…We, too, are using our children on the Internet to burnish our personal brands, from the C.E.O. who wants to let everyone know she still takes the time to attend her child’s piano recital to the stay-at-home caregiver wanting recognition for his exhausting work.

The 5-year-old clearly cannot approve with full understanding the uploading of these images, just as the only way Blue Ivy can refuse to endorse her mother’s marketing campaign is by throwing a temper tantrum. We have strict child labor laws, and I am certain that any applicable ones were upheld during Blue Ivy’s cameo. (I also imagine that she had fun.)

Social media sites typically attempt to ban users under 13, and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule is designed to safeguard children when they use the Internet.

But there are no specific restrictions concerning what parents share about their own children, though the national police in France — a country we have historically thought of as more laissez-faire than us regarding just about everything — recently posted a message on Facebook warning parents that sharing photos of their children is unsafe.

While love for and from a child is absolutely something to be cherished and celebrated, it may also explain why children are such perfect props for online self-promotion. If someone were to post daily pictures of and stories about his spouse, he would soon find himself without any virtual friends.

Yet children get a pass, not only because they are, as ever, symbols of purity, but also because they are still unspoiled by digital technology, unable to use it themselves with much proficiency. As Rousseauian innocents of the Internet age, they aren’t susceptible to the vapidity, solipsism and toxicity the rest of us have been sullied by.

To integrate a child into a Twitter post or Instagram picture, then, is to acknowledge a deeply intimate connection we have to a world untouched by these corrupting media platforms, to signal to others that when we put down the phone or close the computer, there exists a human being whose life is wholly dependent on us, who wants to hear a bedtime story rather than another hot take on the latest scandal, who loves us not for how many followers we boast but for the tender, sacrificial care we give them.

And yet we use a cold piece of machinery to affirm that warm human sentiment.

The Grotesque, Mesmerizing Weirdness of #DentistSelfies

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It’s unclear when dentist selfies started, but once you begin looking for them (if you’re not the squeamish sort), you find them almost everywhere. We’d like to think it started with Kim Kardashian and Weird Al Yankovic, both of whom tweeted pictures of themselves in dental chairs seven years ago. Celebrities from Brooke Shields to Lady Gaga have followed suit, and even Martha Stewart got in on it, offering a play-by-play of her crown replacement in a blog post.

Kim Brinkley, a dental assistant in Dallas, says people are forever snapping selfies. Sometimes they pose with props, like the cheesy “I Love My Dentist” hanging in one examination room. “They’re excited to show their friends and family, ‘Oh look, I’m getting ready to get my tooth fixed,’” she says.

Things got so crazy that Brinkley’s office had to institute a strict “no selfies during procedures” rule last year because people randomly snap a pic even as the dentists do their thing. It’s annoying, she says, and dangerous to boot. “The doctor and assistant have to be in a certain position, and if you raise your arm up to get a picture or video you could hit one of us,” she says. “And we’re up in your mouth with tools.”