Monday, December 9th, 2013
Is there a Pinterest wiz you’re obsessed with? A Twitter feed that makes you laugh? Tell us about it! Nominations for the 2014 Parents Social Media Awards close today, so get yours in now. Last year’s contest opened readers’ eyes to some of the greatest voices in parenting on social media, and we’re excited to share even more. So nominate your favorites this year in our newly expanded contest!
We’ve opened the nominations up to include these social media categories:
-Best on Pinterest
-Best on Facebook
-Best on Twitter
-Best on Instagram
-Best on Tumblr
Then come back to vote for the finalists December 30, 2013 — January 13, 2014. You could help select a winner to be featured in an upcoming issue of Parents. So what are you waiting for? Get to it!
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Friday, August 16th, 2013
As the proud big sister to a teenage brother, I was mortified to hear the results of recent research on teen “hookup culture.”Researchers interviewed 1,000 students and found that boys my brother’s age and younger were sending sexually graphic messages to girls as a means of “flirting or goofing around.” Without getting too detailed, these messages sent via Facebook, Twitter, or text typically asked if the girls (some of which they had never spoken to) would be interested in doing sexual things with them. Gross.
I asked my brother if his friends would ever do something like this to get a girl’s attention. He said, “I know one would, but everyone else thinks that it would be way too forward and would be a bad first impression.” Phew.
Researchers for the book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age think that social media and texting are partially to blame for kids taking “flirty” messages too far. They claim that it’s harder for kids, especially boys, to learn social cues and the polite ways to talk to the opposite sex since they can’t see the other person’s facial reaction).. While I do think that these platforms enable some kids to send creepy messages to unsuspecting girls, it’s hard for me to believe that social media and texting are the only ways tweens and teenagers are speaking to each other. It’s true that technology has evolved since I was in high school but the last time I checked, school dances, football games, and extracurricular activities are still going strong.
What this problem really comes down to is teaching boys to respect girls. Boys need to know that nice guys don’t always finish last and that you’re more likely to get a girl’s attention by being gentleman than by asking her if she wants to “hookup” with you. I hope that I taught my brother these values while we were still under the same roof.
At the same time, we need to teach girls that it’s okay to stand up to boys who make them feel uncomfortable. I assume that most girls who receive these graphic messages aren’t sure how their reaction will affect how the guys at school perceive them. But they should know that when they make it known that these messages are out of line, it’s not going to make them look un-cool — it’s going to make the sender realize he made a stupid move and, hopefully, stop him from using that pick-up method on girls again.
Image of a little girl via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Babies and kids on Facebook. Some people can’t get enough, while others wish those little mugs and pudgy fingers would stay off the site. So, what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to showcasing your family online? I think most of my friends do it right: They don’t flood my feed with their progeny, but the few kiddo pics they do post make my heart happy. I mean, who doesn’t love scrolling past chubby cheeks, teddy bear love, and teeny tiny shoes after a day at the office? Plus, children are a big part of any parent’s life, and I think it’s cool when moms and dads want to share something so precious with the world.
That said, sometimes, some of you out there (no names!) have posted a few not-so-cool photos of your kids. Photos that, well, shouldn’t be posted of anyone, regardless of age. The top three offending images (to me, at least!) are:
1. Spit up. While I’m sorry that your baby just ruined your work outfit, I’d also like you to pause and think about why you’re changing that outfit. So nobody sees it, right? Because even though spit up is totally natural and normal, it’s also kind of gross, right? So, yeah. Don’t post it for everyone in your network to see.
2. Toilet training. Why, why, why people ever think this is okay, I have no idea. As much as I might adore you and your child, let’s face it, I would prefer to never watch either of you do your business. Let’s leave that behind closed doors. Plus, on a more important level than the gross-out factor, is the fact that the images that you post online will live forever. That means that when Junior is a teenager, and his friends do an image search for him, this very personal moment just might come up. Is that fair to your kid? I’d argue no.
3. Obvious illness. I totally get why you might ask your Facebook community for advice on dealing with a sick kid, but posting photos of said kid is going a step too far. I simply cannot understand the impulse to share pics of feverish, flu-ridden children on Facebook, unless it’s for attention or pity–which is something you probably shouldn’t be using your little ones for in the first place. Here’s the thing. I don’t know a single adult who would purposefully share (or allow someone else to share) a photo of themselves looking flushed, exhausted, and generally unwell. We want people to see us at our best, and I’d think that if your child had a choice in the matter, they would feel the same way.
Which brings me to the whole ethical dilemma of whether or not it’s okay to post pictures of children on Facebook at all. In fact, the same question was posed just last week in the New York Times, when a reader asked whether or not sharing a baby’s image was a violation of the wee one’s privacy. It’s a complicated issue, but I’m leaning toward the kids on this one. When Facebook came around, I was already well into my 20s, and at least partially aware of what it meant to have an online presence. I have friends who still to this day aren’t on Facebook at all because they’re private people and don’t want everybody up in their business. To each their own. But when you share pictures of your child, you’re making that online decision for her, before she has the ability to think for herself or understand the concept of privacy in the first place.
I’m not condemning the occasional milestone snapshot or the obligatory newborn pic to announce baby’s arrival—but I truly question “tagging” kids, sharing intimate moments (I consider anything involving nudity or bodily fluids pretty intimate!), or creating individual Facebook pages in their name. Everyone knows that a parent’s love for their child can be matched by no other—and it’s obvious that all of this Facebook sharing comes from excitement and adoration—but part of what it means to love a child is to recognize that although she is (and will forever be) your baby, she is also her own person with her own life ahead of her, and her own important decisions to make.
Besides, wait a few years and you’ll probably want to cut back her online presence, anyway!
So, Moms? Dads? Are you guilty of posting any of the three worst Facebook photos? Do you also wonder where the line is when it comes to kids and social media? Whether you agree with me or think I’m overthinking this, let me know in the comments.
Image of a father taking Facebook photos of his kid via Shutterstock.
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