The Best Influencers Are Babies

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Any old influencer can market tea-toxes or gummies that claim to give you better hair, but not everyone with 100,000 loyal followers on Instagram happens to be pregnant. “If you’re a baby company or if you’re putting out a product for a mother that’s about to have a baby or if you’re currently pregnant, you’re kind of limited in the amount of influencers out there to work with,” he explains. “So, as you can imagine just for supply and demand, it makes you a lot more valuable because the pool of talent is very limited.”

And then there’s the fact that many of these moms are American millennials selling to other American millennials, all of whom are well acquainted with the act of making a purchase on their phones. Instagram shopping in general has boomed, in part thanks to a new class of brands existing mostly or entirely on the platform.

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The Dangers of Distracted Parenting

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…emerging research suggests that a key problem remains underappreciated. It involves kids’ development, but it’s probably not what you think. More than screen-obsessed young children, we should be concerned about tuned-out parents.

Yes, parents now have more face time with their children than did almost any parents in history. Despite a dramatic increase in the percentage of women in the workforce, mothers today astoundingly spend more time caring for their children than mothers did in the 1960s. But the engagement between parent and child is increasingly low-quality, even ersatz. Parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned. To be clear, I’m not unsympathetic to parents in this predicament. My own adult children like to joke that they wouldn’t have survived infancy if I’d had a smartphone in my clutches 25 years ago.

…Yet for all the talk about children’s screen time, surprisingly little attention is paid to screen use by parents themselves, who now suffer from what the technology expert Linda Stone more than 20 years ago called “continuous partial attention.” This condition is harming not just us, as Stone has argued; it is harming our children. The new parental-interaction style can interrupt an ancient emotional cueing system, whose hallmark is responsive communication, the basis of most human learning. We’re in uncharted territory.

Is it an invasion of your kids’ privacy to post pictures of them on social media?

picture of family taking selfies

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Like millions of parents, I post pictures of my kid on Instagram. When she was born, her father and I had a brief conversation about whether it was “dangerous” in a very nebulous sense. Comforted by the fact that I use a fake name on my account, we agreed to not post nudie pics and then didn’t give it much more thought. Until recently.

As she gets older, and privacy on social media dominates the news, I’m revisiting this conversation. Am I invading my daughter’s privacy by sharing her kooky dance moves or epic Nick Nolte hair? Will she feel violated when she’s older? My generation had to contend with mom showing an embarrassing baby photo to our prom date. Is an awkward Instagram picture just today’s equivalent, or does the fact that that the photo can be revisited again and again, by potentially hundreds or even millions of eyes, change things?

Playing Video Games With My Son Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be

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My son and I do still play those competitive games, and I hope that he’s learning about practice and perseverance when we do. But those games are about stretching and challenging him to fit the mold of the game’s demands. When we play Minecraft together, the direction of his development, and thus our relationship, is reversed: He converts the world into expressions of his own fantasies and dreams. And by letting me enter and explore those dream worlds with him, I come to understand him in a way that the games from my childhood do not.

Touring the worlds that my son has settled over the last couple of years, I find a lot of the imagery one might expect from a kid his age. Throughout are standard fantasies like living in a treehouse or on a boat. The dominant themes vary as I pass through time: trains in his earliest worlds, then robots, a long streak of pyramids. Pirate ships, particularly half-sunken ones with treasure chests, remain a constant.

Parents, I Was Smug About Your Videos of Your Children. I’m Sorry.

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I would like to apologize to all the parents I mocked for taking videos at elementary school performances and soccer games a couple of decades ago when my children — and theirs — were young. I can remember exchanging eye-rolls with friends or with my husband when some mommy or daddy with a big state-of-the-art video camera popped up in the row in front of me at a school assembly, or pushed through the crowd to run up and down the soccer sidelines following the ball.

Who on earth would ever watch those videos, we wondered. How sad, we said to one another, to see the big moment through a viewfinder. We didn’t own a video camera, and we were a bit smug about it; we were the parents who actually watched the soccer game, or the play, who participated in the party instead of filming it.

The New Kid Defense: The Algorithm Made Me Do It

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All my noble dreams of raising my two daughters around wooden Montessori-approved toys and bright-red metal wagons has completely degraded. But watching someone else play with toys is where I draw the line. “Is that a toy video?” I call warningly from across the room. Both girls suddenly jump back from the screen. “iPad picked it!” they defend.

And there it is. The algorithm defense — essentially the modern-day equivalent of “my dog ate my homework.” Like most streaming services we’re all familiar with, YouTube Kids automatically advances from one video to the next, attempting to predict what my kids will like.

Sadly, my children have watched enough of these toy videos without me noticing that the app often jumps there. So instead of blaming each other for the video selection, my kids blame a third thing I need to discipline: the machine.