Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kids & Social Media: Have that talk

     By now, most of us have heard at least a smidgen about the Jennifer Lawrence scandal regarding her nude photos that were leaked.  Obviously she is a free choosing adult who can take nude photos in the privacy of her own home.  She most likely took them with someone she was in love with and never in her life time thought they would be posted for the public to view.  This is at least what I am hoping because she seems like a genuine person instead of a celebrity looking for attention. 

     Instead of getting wrapped up and rolling around in the hype about this, my immediate response was, "This is exactly why my husband and I have spoken and reiterated to our children about the danger of camera phones, texts and social media." 

     At my thirty-eight years of age, I can admit that none of that was an issue we had to deal with while maturing.  Eh hum............we didn't even have cell phones.  

     While everything today is documented, as little as fifteen years ago all we had was he said/she said.  Rumors.  You defended yourself with spoken words.  Today most, especially children don't speak, they text as much as possible.  That means every thought they have is documented, because they type All of their thoughts.  That means with those abnormally deft thumb muscles  the younger generation has grown, those texts and even worse, photos, can be shared. Our children are natives to social media.  They are much more comfortable sharing personal information than older generations are.  

     The points that we try to incorporate into our children's core are that even though we are "old" we understand that times change.  We accept certain parts of that change, but there is still a line that shouldn't be crossed and if you do cross it, realize there are consequences.  To children and teens, reputation is everything in school.   How many "likes" you receive, shape how they are perceived by their peers.  Too much influence is put on this.  Make a mistake in judgement and you may be branded as something you are not.  Make a mistake in judgement and you may hurt or embarrass someone you care about, including yourself.  Make a mistake in judgement and you may lose your scholarship/job.  This can bring a level of stress and pressure so great to teens who are already overwhelmed with school, social status and hormones that they crack, rebel or retreat so far into themselves that they are unable to find the person they once were. 

     What children don't share with us, as parents,  is a concern over their privacy and how that can be abused by peers, hackers or companies looking to use their images or words.  If I am correct, in the cyber world, even if we delete a post, it is still out there, floating around somewhere.  Even if it is not, you can bet someone has downloaded or copied it for a reason not yet known.  Until it shows up, months or years later.  Now with the invention of iCloud, it's always out there.  iCloud is supposed to be secure, but just ask Jennifer Lawrence about that.  

     I, myself, am a member of many social media networks to spread my blog to many audiences.  I do select my audience, but my blogs are always posted as "public".   Posting publicly is mostly used for marketing and I can tell you that it is exhausting just posting once or twice a week to all of them because I end up researching or finding someone I know and looking at their profile.  Then I've wasted an hour of my life, sitting on my butt when I could have been interacting with someone, making memories and at least doing something productive.  I take that chance that someone or a group will manipulate my words or images each time I post.  I try to be conscious of copyrighting my images and hopefully writing words that inspire and cannot be construed as harmful.  As we all know, there are miserable individuals out there who have it down to an art on how to manipulate.   Those are the ones that we continually warn our children of.

   So the easiest and most efficient way to avoid this situation is to just not do it.   Simple, yet at some point we have all made a mistake in posting.  Whether our words or photos were meant in a certain manner, it is all about perception.  How it will be viewed from another party or how they can alter how it is viewed.  

     We, as parents, will lead a positive influence for our children regarding this, as the future can only include more technological advances.  We will allow a certain amount of privacy as our children grown into teens and at the same time we will do our job that we accepted when we decided to create a human life and keep our children safe.( no matter how much they whine about it!)