Thursday, December 1, 2011

Social Media and Our Kids

I am a social media marketer by trade and have spent the past 7 years engaging in social media strategy and practice, in addition to other marketing activities. Still, I am very passionate about how online communities and sharing capabilities can connect brands with customers in a way that nothing else really can. And I also enjoy the personal connections that I have been able to maintain as a result of social networking.

But I'm also a parent of a 9 year old and a 6 year old. Both use electronic devices to play games and my son is now starting to use the Internet to do online research for projects. Within a few years, I have no doubt that he will start to have interest in online communities like Facebook and others. As a responsible parent, I'm concerned about how my children will use these social networking platforms as they get older. Between the stories we hear about online predators, as well as cyber bullying, we can't help the instinct to protect our kids.

So here's an article that I read today that I really enjoyed entitled, Friend Me or Else: A Parent's View of Teens and Facebook. In this article, Catharine Taylor provides some wise advice on how parents can allow Facebook use in a responsible way. She offers up some tips like insisting that kids use avatars in place of profile pictures and ensuring that they don't publish information like what town they live in. Now, I haven't been a teen in a while (thank God) and my kids are not yet at this stage so I'm sure that these suggestions would be met with some protest. But even if you can agree to at least a few of these guidelines, you have at least sent the message to your kids that you care what happens to them online and that you plan to be involved.

So I say let them use's the way that we communicate and it's here to stay. Let them benefit and learn to use it responsibly.