In today’s world, it seems we are all addicted to our smart phones, tablets and laptops. It is not just our children who have learned to rely on technology but it is us, the parents. Social media has become part of our daily lives and can often take over. We cannot wait to share the latest picture of our little one and look forward to discovering what “friend” will comment. Will it be the camp friend you haven’t seen or heard from in thirty years? Will it be your old co-worker from your first job out of college? Either way, you are sharing your life online with your old Rolodex (remember those) as well as your new contact list.
Social media has become more than sharing pictures of our children, our tasty meals and recent travels. It has become a parenting resource that most have come to rely on. In 2014, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Heath surveyed parents about the benefits and concerns of sharing parental information on social media. To no surprise, 56% of mothers discuss child health and parenting topics on social media, compared to only 34% of fathers.
Someone else understands:
Parents, specifically moms, want to know that they are not alone in this crazy journey of motherhood. When we are experiencing a bad day, having a hard time balancing it all, dealing with a toddler who is screaming and kicking on the floor and are realizing we haven’t gone to the bathroom once all day, knowing someone somewhere else is also struggling, is priceless. It allows us to feel human, to feel like another person on this earth can fully understand our hardships and frustrations.
A whole new support system:
In the past, parents may have relied on the support of family and friends who may not have been able to relate to their parenting problems. Parenting books were helpful but did not always cover a specific topic or issue. The advice was perhaps outdated or did not apply to your children. Today, there is unlimited access to a whole community of moms who are available any time, day or night, from all over the world. We are now able to reach out and tap into to a specific group of women (and men) based on a specific need.
Advice at your fingertips:
Social media has become a method for parents seeking guidance. Moms have come together to share their knowledge in hopes of helping other moms who may be having a difficult time. We have the ability to post a picture of our child’s rash to see if anyone has ever seen anything like it. We can ask millions of moms what brand of diapers they recommend. We share a bond that is fueled by sleepless nights, frustrated days, milestones and setbacks. We mastered motherhood today and want to share it with the world in hopes of helping another mom master her day. We were mommy disasters another day and reached out for help to keep us sane.
As much as we love our social media and all it has to offer, it is important to understand how it can affect us and our families in a negative way.
We assume and want to believe that people are good when in fact, that is simply not the case. According to internetsafety101.org, the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2010 stated that “in 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offender used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislikes.” Scary! While our children may be too young to have their own social networking sites, we, the parents, are not. Do we really know who is on the other end of our computers? Are they who they say they are? We teach our children about stranger danger and need to practice what we preach. Just because we cannot see the stranger and the possible danger, does not mean it does not exist.
We are all guilty of “over-sharenting” on social media and it stems from a good place. We want to share our pride and feelings of joy that comes along with becoming a parent. What we do not realize is that we are sharing what our child looks like, where they go to school, what activities they participate in and what their personality is like. When you post a picture of your little one on the first day of school in front of the school sign, you are providing easy access to your child. When you post a picture of your gymnast doing backflips every Thursday at 4PM and tag the facility, you are providing easy access to your child. When you tell us you are at the airport headed off to a kidless vacation, you are providing easy access to your child, who is not with you. Just as we tell our kids, we need to think about our actions and the possible consequences. Next time you think of posting a picture of your precious angel, take a minute to ensure there are no identifiers such as school logos on uniforms and street names or house numbers.
Put the phone down:
Parents have to remember to participate in memories instead of obsessing about sharing those memories with 450 of their friends on social media. They could very well miss what is happening right in front of their eyes and instead, witness their child’s milestones through a cell phone camera lens. We all love to share our moments with others but need to focus on sharing them with those that are with us in the moment.
Social media has changed our lives. It has reconnected us to old friends and acquaintances, opened doors to new opportunities, allowed us to share our experiences with the world and to feel part of something bigger. It shows us we are not alone in our journey of parenthood and is a parenting resource like no other. Social media has also invited strangers into our lives and the lives of our children. If we think before sharing, we can make smart decisions for our family and keep them safe.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™