We have all seen them...the videos, photos and social network status updates by frustrated parents.
The story goes something like this:
1. The kid does something wrong.
2.Parent implements a consequence such as grounding, taking away car etc.
3. Parent vents on Facebook or Twitter.
4.Child vents on Facebook, Twitter, text and who knows where else!
5. Parent takes photo of messy room, wrecked car or mad teen.
6. Parent posts photo and/or another frustrated status update to Facebook.
7. Parent and child go about their life. They make up, forgive one another and forget about situation.
8. Parent does not update social network status that everything worked out great and that their child is now back to the perfect angel the Holiday cards will depict they are.
So, what's the problem?
So now you may asking "what is the problem and point of this post?" Why is it a problem to complain about your kids constantly? Isn't it part of life? Part of sharing everything you do, what's on your mind via Facebook?
As I always say there is only one way to do social media. The way that works for you, your business and your life.
I am going to share with you my opinion of why I think you should think twice before using social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to blast frustrations about your child. You can take them or leave them. My goal is that you will at minimum have an open mind, take them to heart if appropriate and maybe even use them to help your own child or someone close to you in your network.
I have been concerned recently by many parents within my community. I am seeing a flurry of photos, rants, videos and more focused on bad teen behavior. Some parents are venting, digitally yelling and overall putting their child in a bad light. Often times they take over their teens Facebook page posting as if they are the teen. They are sending messages to their friends and the list goes on.
I know kids who are getting bullied because of content their own parents have posted to Facebook.
So where does a parent draw the line? Where and when is it okay to publish content about your kids? I can't answer these questions for you in this post as I don't know you.
We do help parents with these matters but it takes more than a post. We meet with them and help them uncover what is being said about their teen, who their teens are engaging with, how they are engaging, privacy settings and more.
It takes more than a blog post for me to help you with what is appropriate to share with your community and what is not. I am also not a doctor, family counselor or psychiatrist. I can only offer advice based on my knowledge of living and breathing the online social world for many years.
Why you should think twice about what you post to the social networks about your children:
2. Your kids are learning from your behavior. They are watching you closely. They know what you post to Facebook. They know if you spend all day gossiping in the neighborhood Facebook group or if you constantly complain via your status updates. You are teaching them as a role model how they should behave.
3. There are likely people who you are connected to via your social networks that have influence over their offline success, status or reputation. You may even be connected without knowing to school authorities or teachers, law enforcement, community leaders, potential or current employers and the list goes on.
4. You are making a lasting impact on all connected to you. Each post of a messy room, mean status update or video leaves a personal brand imprint. Your son or daughter may apply for a job with a leader in the community who saw a Facebook post from you complaining what a rotten child they were two years ago. What if that was the only time the hiring manager saw an update from you about your child? Chances are they are going to remember that post, particularly if they don't know your child personally.
5. What happens on Facebook goes to Twitter, neighborhood parties, school classrooms, and phone conversations. Nothing posted on a social network should be considered private, ever.
I want to encourage parents to take an active and positive role in helping their kids to properly manage their online reputation. Don't be the person that teaches them online reputations don't matter. They do. Social media is real life. It is not fake. Social media can either be used as an opportunity to nurture and grow positive relationships or it can be used to destroy one another. Choose the first and teach your kids to do the same.
6 Proactive Reputation Management Tips for Parents:
1. You can say NO! You do NOT have to let your child on Facebook, Twitter or any social network for that matter. My oldest son is 12 and he is NOT on any adult social network. Yes, his friends are on Facebook. However, we have made the decision not to let him join any social network until there is a real need to do such. Chances are he will join Facebook with the launch of his new business before he does it only to connect with friends. He is currently enrolled in home based virtual school, is educated on social networks and understands how most of them work better than some of our clients do. He could probably teach a class on most of them. However, he also respects our decision. He has told us he is happy he is not addicted to Facebook like some of his friends are.
2. You can monitor. Do NOT feel guilty monitoring what your child is doing on the social networks. If you have a bad gut feeling then do a deep dive check on what is happening within their communities. Treat it the same way you would if something was going on offline. You wouldn't just ignore it if the problem was offline, right? So why ignore it because the conversation is online?
3. Educate yourself on the details of profile setup and privacy settings on Facebook. It is very easy for a teen to fool their parents into thinking they are seeing all of their updates on Facebook. By using the Facebook friend lists combined with privacy settings you can choose for each post who can see what post. You may think you are seeing every status update your teen is posting, but in reality are seeing only a small percentage.
4. Check that they do not have more than one profile. I have a good friend who found out her daughter had two Facebook profiles. An entire group of their friends each had two profiles. One that their parents could see and one that was uber secret private. Once she got into the private account she found out many things that were happening including experimenting with drugs and more. It was bad enough she pulled all of her kids out of public school and is home schooling them this year. This was coming from a mom who is very involved in her kids lives, a super user on Facebook and never thought she would be one to be fooled. It can happen to anyone folks!
5. Think twice before venting about your child. Just as you would do with a work email, take a deep breath and walk away from the keyboard. Before you type that rant post about your teen, think about it. What good is it going to do for anyone? Is it worth the risk to your child's reputation to vent at their cost?
6. Turn off & become a "Hands Free Family"! If you are getting so frustrated with your child online or offline, maybe it is time you all schedule time offline!
A few months ago I was introduced to an amazing site called "Hands Free Mama". I took one read at the first few paragraphs and it changed my life. Since that time I am a proud #Handsfreemama and our family is a proud "Hands Free Family."
We now spend baseball games, basketball games, nights out to dinner with phones put away. We don't tweet, Facebook or send texts unless necessary. We look our kids in the eye, listen to what they say and give them our full dedication during the time we are with them. I'll tell you, it has changed our relationships, family and life.
If you are at all struggling with putting that new shiny iPhone away, take a stroll to www.handsfreemama.com. I hope that you too will join the revolution and challenge yourself and your family to do the same.
Just a few weeks ago we had dinner with some family friends. One of the 12 yr olds had his phone with him. He was complaining of getting bullied at school and on Facebook. The entire time he had his head down in his phone. He missed the conversations, laughs and ability to connect with other adults and his friends.
When we left the restaurant my son looked straight at me, hugged me and said "mom, I am so happy we are a hands free family." He and I both had tears ready to stream down our face. It is moments like those that will change your life and help your child grow. Be the inspiration they need to turn off the tech and turn up the real life relationships they so desparately need.
We should look at our children's reputation the same we do for our own and for our business. Think before you tweet, post and pin regardless if it's about you, your business, or your kids. Inspire them to connect to grow and to achieve both online and offline. Inspire - connect - achieve!
What You Say?
What are your thoughts? What tips do you have for parents? Do you see a trend toward good or bad with parents impacting their child's reputation online? Have you dealt with this before? Are you ready to be the positive influence in the life of your kids, community and family? It starts with you!