February 04th, 2016
I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend about something her insightful son asked her. Her son is a terrific kid: athletic, wise, fun, friendly and incredibly hard-working and disciplined.
There had been a dance at his school where the girls invite the boys to dance. My friend’s son had not been invited. He probably wouldn’t have said anything at all if he hadn’t seen pre-dance photos on his Mum’s Facebook page that her friends had posted. There were the shots of girls dressed up, boys in tuxedos, corsages, poses … you know the photos. He asked his Mum: “What are they bragging about?” Then he offered this as his own answer: “Mum, they are bragging about their children being popular and social. They’re not bragging about the things that matter!” … the things that matter to him. And, you know, he’s right!
So, here’s the question again: what are we bragging about? Do we want OUR Facebook pages to be showing that we value our daughter’s prettiness, or the length of her legs, or the way her hair looks? Do we want our sons to be valued for their good looks and that they were deemed worthy of being invited to dance? I decided to scroll through my own Facebook feed from the last few months … and while I consciously post very few individual photos of my child, there are clear themes that jump out!
- A photo of my child and my husband both dressed up at a Halloween party. I guess I want everyone to see that they are good sports and like to get dressed up!
- An outdoorsy picture. I want everyone to see that my daughter loves to be outdoors.
- She did her first triathalon. She’s athletic.
- The obligatory first-day-of-school-look-how-grown-up-and-pretty she is photos of her alone and with neighborhood friends. She is cute, she has friends … and a dog!
- Jumping off a dock into the ocean at sunset. She’s a kid that loves the water and is always up for fun with new friends.
- A photo with neighborhood friends as they run a lemonade stand and golf ball sale for local golfers to raise funds for the Nepal earthquake relief efforts. I want people to see that she cares about making a difference in the world and that she has a responsibility to contribute.
I could go on … but I guess what I want my friends to know about my child is essentially that she is sporty, has a global understanding and wants to make a difference; she is friendly, fun and pretty … and that she has a dog! Here’s the follow up question though, how might my friends perceive what I’m posting? How does that leave other children feeling if/when they see my posts. And I know exactly what can happen!
While writing this, a 1-year ago memory photo appeared on my feed. It was a photo posted by a friend of the children from 4 out of 5 neighborhood families out on a hike. The children from the 5th family hadn’t been invited … a complete oversight … not a malicious exclusion by any stretch of the imagination. But, the son of said 5th family saw the photo on his Mum’s Facebook page and was left feeling excluded, hurt and angry.
As parents, we are absolutely allowed to feel proud of our children and we do want to share our joyful experiences with family and friends. I am not writing this at all as a judgement of what we should or shouldn’t post on our pages. We should, however, post with a greater understanding of two things:
If your children are ok with you sharing their life experiences, check in from time to time to see how you are presenting your children to your world. Is it a true reflection of the important qualities you value in your children?
Ann Magalhaes, The Parent Practice NY
October 17th, 2010
By Elaine Halligan
As a parent of children in the 21st century you have, I am sure, many fears – maybe worrying about keeping our children safe outside the home? Maybe you have the perception that your child is in danger due to the news stories about child killings and paedophilia. The reality is however that with the introduction of new technologies and social networking sites the risks are possible as great inside our homes as well. “There are places your kids shouldn’t be hanging out in. Dark alleys. Street corners. Websites.” reports J.Kaplan from Fox News last week.
How well versed are you in the use of Facebook; MSN messaging; SMS and Twitter to name just a few? Our role as parents is to educate and we can only do that when we are knowledgeable about the risks involved. Cyber bullying is a real risk and the impact can be devastating, not just for the victim but also for the perpetrator. There are a growing number of girls and boys ( but particularly girls) as early as Year 5 and Year 6 setting up social networking accounts. Are you aware of what your children are doing?
Take a look at some interesting facts:
The subject is vast …if you want to know more register for our intensive workshop on the whole area of screens and internet safety on:
Wednesday 10th November 10-12.30pm at The Parent Practice in Clapham SW London
How safe is your child or teenager on the computer?