Negotiating social media use with kids
Your baby’s adorable. You can’t resist taking pictures of her. Naturally you post them to Facebook or Instagram to share with family and friends. You record the first tooth, the messy attack on her first piece of birthday cake, the first day of school – as she grows up, you document it all. Then suddenly, when she’s 7 she asks you to stop. That’s what happened to Spark producer Michelle Parise with her daughter Lola. Now she asks Lola’s permission before posting pictures of her online. Listen to her story (audio 3:02)
There are also several remarkable stories where photos shared online have actually saved lives or diagnosed rare conditions, like this story of a child’s photo on Facebook leading to the diagnosis of an eye condition.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. I like seeing pictures of friends and their families sharing life events, but I don’t post any myself. At age 8, my daughter asked why not and was disappointed that there were no pictures of her online. Did this affect her sense of self? Here’s another Spark audio clip about How social media could be affecting your child’s sense of self. (audio 6:25).
Now that my daughter is older she’s relieved that her digital footprint doesn’t include her as a baby frolicking in the bathtub.
As my daughter starts to explore the social web I find myself holding my tongue, wanting to say no. But it would be ridiculously hypocritical of me to forbid her using social media while advocating for its use in health. So instead, we negotiate. I get to see her posts, followers and private messages, guiding her on safe use and potential pitfalls as well as letting her explore without interference. I guide her health literacy along with her digital literacy. There’s a lot of health and wellness advice out there that’s bogus. I want her to be able to distinguish the good from the bad. It’s a fine, and sometimes precarious, balance.
Many of us, myself included, shared Andrew Watts’ Medium post-gone-viral: A Teenager’s View on Social Media written by an actual teen. We thought we’d gotten an inside view of teenage use of social media. Sobering counterpoint was offered by danah boyd’s post An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media showing that teens know themselves no better than we do.
This week on #hcsmca (January 28 at 9pm ET), I’d like to explore negotiating social media use with kids through the various stages and ages.
- T1: Do you talk about and share photos of your kids on social media? Why or why not?
- T1a: Have your kids ever objected to your sharing, or not sharing, about them on social media?
- T1b: What is the appropriate age for kids to start using social media?
- T2: How do you/we guide digital and health literacy of children?
- T3: How much do you patrol and when do you let go? How do you keep them safe?
- T4: Share proud moments of your kid’s use of social media.
Read the Jan 28 #hcsmca transcript.