Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Social media survival guide for mothers

Back in the last century when I was growing up social had no media -- you passed notes  and things written on walls, as a child of NYC, meant either explicit things one had done, one was being told to do or your "tag" as in graffiti (art or not remains a debate, some I would say yes others just angst with a spray can).  

Back in the last century phones were not so smart, actually were so dumb they had to be leashed via a cord otherwise I don't know they may have simply fallen off the wall.   Conversations were interrupted by mothers using the operator, emergency call meant you were about to need the ER if you did not get off and accepted it and ended that conversation that I am sure every mother started with "what on earth could you be talking about for so long?".  It also could be yanked out of your hand or they hung up on the call.  You came in red eared, it did get kind of hot, and you showed your displeasure not through postings on public domain but in your head and through very demonstrative sighs, eye rolls and the ever ubiquitous "whatever" response.  If you grew up in Queens you did not discuss or negotiate .. they were the boss you were reminded and you could make up rules when and if you moved out of the parental home. 

Our parents had it easy from that perspective - they kind of, sort of knew what you were up to, especially growing up in Astoria where FB postings are a close second in speed of appearance to the women who saw you from their window or porch network.  They reported and berated you as needed. They also often were lethally accurate with a slipper, yeah there was no "making setting private". You still did things they did not know but it was always in the back of your mind to not get "busted".

That was last century - kids of this century now we have multiple ways to communicate, that we use to communicate, this blog is a perfect example of public posting.  It is scary to be a parent in this age, hell it's scary sometimes to be adult.  Social media and screen time discussions have replaced TV watching and phone discussions but that much more because it is done ironically through those very mediums being questioned.  

There is no longer bullying or the nasty note in some obscure bathroom about you in a school or playground setting - this can come to your home with you.  People are less likely to filter and not join in sheep style when they can do it from behind the electronic screen.  

It is in this world that our children are growing up - not last century. For me the idea of not letting them being on some sort of social media or no screen time is totally against everything I love about innovation and my fervent belief that we also need to teach them how to use it appropriately and actually take responsibility for their actions.  This does not give them carte blanche to sign up for an Instagram account (not yet, too young and if you cannot make a cognizant argument why you want it instead of "because my friend has it" then you are not mature enough to know the dangers of it), of FaceBook or any thing else.  I do check texts and monitor what they watch but that is part of being a parent - because whether I admitted then I admit it now I did not always make good choices then though I thought I was so clever.  

Technology is a part of their lives and will always be - it is wonderful, it is eye opening, it is a huge resource.  It is also full of things that I notice a lot of my adult friends also still do not get - if it's on the internet it does not make it true (it might be but it may not be), adding the word "study" to anything does not make it a legitimate - i.e if it starts observing unreported number of people(or like 10), with undisclosed reviewers and just being "anti" everything known is not science or truth  - it is a blog by a different name.  

So I do my research, I actually try out different types - still never warmed up to Twitter  - just so I know how to talk to my kids.  To show them how someone could use it against them or to harm them not through voodoo stories (kind of like the ones my father was fond of telling me about the perils of marijuana which led straight to heroin and my downfall into homeless prostitution  - I still laugh as in my head I think I always wanted to say "man that's some serious stuff you were smokin'") but through examples on the actual media.  To allow them to talk to me and understand that if you are too ashamed or afraid of my reaction to a post or send a text you may not want to do it as others who have influence on their future may react like me.  

I also feel you have to lead by example - if I write nasty, demeaning things on my FB and they saw it what would that say to them ??? Healthy debate is not surrounded by the words You are an Idiot. Instead I tell them as you get older FB and other social media becomes a great equalizer and connection to people that maybe you were not so close with younger but now realize you have a shared past and connection with. 

Each parent must parent in a way that is comfortable and for me parenting in a bubble is too risky - cause you never know who may be holding the pin. 

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