Kids Say The Darndest Things!
I am not only a social media consultant and business owner, I am also a mom to four kids, three of them teens. Having three sons, the conversations with them are often limited to sports talk, school work, friends and the standard ‘what’s for dinner’. With my daughter the conversations go deeper and lately, are often related to social media.
In my parenting, I don’t shy away from pointing out mistakes, whether they are made by my kids, their friends or by the adults in their life (including myself). I firmly believe learning from other people’s mistakes is a great way to avoid making them yourself.
Over the holidays, my daughter and I were out shopping and while driving between stores, she had my phone in her hand. Now, she is fourteen and has her own smartphone, an iPhone 5 which she paid for herself and for which she pays a $30/month service fee. (I’m the ‘mean’ mom!) But this time she had my phone in her hand and was looking through my Facebook newsfeed.
Yes, she’s allowed. I don’t censor or hide anything that goes on in social media. I won’t let any of my kids into my work email, or my clients social media accounts, however they can pick up my phone and use it to text or call a friend anytime.
This is what came out of her mouth as she looked at my phone:
“Mom, can people see their own posts in their own newsfeeds? I wish they could and read their own stuff.”
Now she didn’t tell me what she was reading and she didn’t tell me if it was good or bad stuff, but I know who I am connected to and what pages I’ve liked…I could only imagine what updates she was reading!
I thought it was a great observation from a smart kid.
Imagine, just for a second; you reading your own rants.
Imagine, you reading our own boastful post.
Imagine, you reading the comments you’re leaving on the politically charged news update.
Now imagine not only you reading these posts and comments, but your kids reading them as well.
The Social Media Mirror
You know how the saying goes. “Children don’t always do what you say, but they do what you do.” It goes for everything in life; good habits as well as bad habits. Let me ask you something, from one parent to another. Be honest. Is social media a good or bad habit for you?
“Children close their ears to advice, but open their eyes to example”
If you can’t quite figure out if social media is a good or bad habit for you, it might be time to re-evaluate your reasons for being social online. If you see online behavior from your child that you find unacceptable, re-evaluate what you are saying and sharing online yourself, first! More often than not, children mimic behavior learned from a parent.
As a social media manager, I work with (local) brands to develop their ‘online social media voice’. This means finding and speaking in a voice that people can relate to as well as recognize instantly. When I work with a new brand on this, the first step in finding that unique voice is to record and mimic the boss! We mimic words, phrases and expressions by the owner and/or sales person (the front (wo)man) of the business, in order to sound as authentic online, as that person does offline. We might tweak it later, or as we go along, and we develop that branded voice into a unique, for online purposes, voice.
Guess who your child ‘boss’ is and who they will mimic until they find their own voice? Of course it’s you! You are your child’s first ‘boss’. As they develop their own unique online voice, they might quickly realize they want to sound more like their colleagues (best friends). Then they might add some unique personality traits and BOOM! Your child has an online voice, a real one. It’s important to release that initially, you are the one your child takes his/her cues from
I am bringing this to your attention because I have found many parents do not realize the impact they are making on their child as it relates to online social behavior. It is real. Just like you might Google your child’s name to keep tabs on them, they initially do the same to you and mimic you. Are you being kind? Are you supportive of friends? Are you positive? Are you uplifting? What links are you sharing?
“Be the person you want your children to be”
I urge you to look in the social media mirror today and take a long hard look. If the reflection staring back at you is not flattering, take steps to change it, starting now. A new year; a time to change.
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