social media and kids

CBC Radio Interview: Kids and Email

by Samantha on September 4, 2014

Should parents allow their children to have email and online accounts?

Gmail Does your child have an email account? Why or why not?

This is a question that I addressed on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning program about kids and online access. Following a discussion on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show on a similar topic, I delved more deeply into the questions that all parents face about when they should allow their kids online access.

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Some topics discussed:

  • Should kids under 13 have an email account and online access?
  • How young is too young to be online?
  • How has parenting a child in the digital age changed from raising a child before the Internet was the norm?

As digital technology becomes the norm both at home and at school, kids are increasingly expected to have some type of access, whether it be via email or otherwise. This reality raises a number of issues and concerns for parents who worry about the safety of their kids as they venture online.

Is it okay to let a child under the age of 13 have an email account or online access? What are some of the considerations that parents should make before allowing their children online? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed by all of us who are raising our kids in the digital age.

To listen to the full interview, click here:

What are your thoughts? Do your children have email accounts? Why or why not? How much online access do you allow your kids? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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madonna vogue image

“Strike a pose.”

Remember that edict that Madonna pronounced to us so many lifetimes ago?

In the song “Vogue,” she challenged us to go big or go home. “Strike a pose” was the battle cry for some heavy-duty showing off, if that’s what you want to call it. “Voguing” was the rage and narcissistic vanity was at its core.

Fast forward more than 20 years later and here we are, striking poses like it’s nobody’s business. This is particularly the case with the younger set – those in the tween and teen ranges are especially attuned to vain behaviour. The culture of narcissism has been facilitated in large part by those very handy little items that many of us tote around with us every time we leave the house: the smartphone. No longer just a vehicle for making and receiving calls, the ability to take pictures and share them almost instantaneously, has made even the most timid folks into showoffs.

“Look at me at the mall!”

“Here I am in the waiting room at the doctor’s office!”

“Check out my style at the grocery store!”

Duck lips abound, faux smiles dominate and a general sense of self-importance is de rigeur in this age of acceptable and often-encouraged vanity.

But to what end?

How much is our collective acceptance and encouragement of narcissistic posing affecting our kids? Are we complicit in raising a whole generation of those who feel that their image is one to be, at minimum - admired, at best – adored? Our reliance on documenting every second of our lives – mundane moments and all – has become the norm, not the exception, much to our detriment. Our children must surely have a skewed sense of what is truly important as they jockey to get that perfect shot of themselves as they walk down the street.

monalisaducklips

As parents, we’re both shocked and complicit, as we too have become addicted to the allure of social media. Instagram feeds are no longer the sole domain of the younger set and increasingly the over-35 crowd is embracing the urge to document their interesting and not-so-interesting pursuits. The urge to instantaneously share what would have at one time been perceived as “humdrum” is overwhelming. Is it any wonder, then, that our children have no qualms about broadcasting their everyday pursuits to the world, whether said world is interested or not?

We laugh at the vanity and self-absorptions of tweens and teens, all the while ignoring the fact that we ourselves are Tweeting, Liking, Instagramming and generally sharing portions of our lives that others may find…well…boring. Is it really possible to think that even our closest friends and family want a regular stream of pictures recounting our meals, snacks, grocery store visits and waiting room demeanours in an ongoing feed of monotony?

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and monkeys not only see, but they “do” as well. Aphorisms, perhaps, but realities in this era where smartphone addiction (otherwise known as “Nomophobia”) is a very real ill. While older folks may not have started society’s social media obsession, we may, surprisingly, be the ones who are unwittingly facilitating our kids’ dependence on it through our own actions and examples. To this end, we should take a long hard look at our social media behaviour and realize that it’s not only our children who should put down the smartphone and stop to smell the roses.

What do you think? Has the “Selfie Generation” gone too far with the amount of images of themselves shared on social media? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

VIDEO: Madonna - Vogue

Images courtesy of Sire Records and Notable.ca
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Hashtag, I am Your Father

by Samantha on December 1, 2012

Will little "Hashtag" change her name when she becomes an adult?

What’s in a name?

In the age of social media, hashtags. To be specific a hashtag. Proper.

“Hashtag Jameson” apparently made her way into the world recently, and to mark her entrance, her parents named her after one of the more popular social media symbols around. The “hashtag,” or # symbol, is used primarily on Twitter to mark a trending topic, keyword or subject so that others using the same marker can find each other. Simple right? One would think so, though the introduction of the symbol as a first name may complicate things somewhat. Like it wasn’t hard enough that parents have difficulty naming their babies without having to now add options such as the @ sign, the Facebook “Like” or the Google + to the mix. The possibilities are now even more endless. Sadly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about individuality, unique baby names and standing out from the crowd. Heck, I’ve even written about my stance on this topic, here, and practice what I preach. That being said, naming a child after what was previously known as a “pound sign” is a bit much in my humble opinion.

On a more serious note, isn’t it hard enough for kids these days considering the (unfortunate) ease of cyber-bullying, the proliferation of those looking for the next “viral” video and and more to worry about? Did the parents really give this decision enough thought, considering the fact that the name “hashtag” is not likely to top those annual lists of the most popular baby names for the year? What will little Hashtag be called for short? “Hash?” “Hashie?” “Hash-Hash?”

Kids can be cruel and while we are living in a more enlightened age than before and our kids are exposed to a diverse range of cultures, the concept that the name “Hashtag” will become the next “Emma” is a bit of a stretch. Kids will be kids and little Hashtag may be at the mercy of the schoolyard or online bullies.

Yes, I know that other parents have embraced the impact of social media in their lives, like the ones who named their child after the Facebook “Like” button and the folks who decided to name their child “Facebook.” While they may have had their reasons, one still wonders if they fully thought their decision through.

I’m really hoping that the baby named “Hashtag” is yet another internet hoax, a viral joke gone awry, and that there isn’t really a child who will have to defend their moniker for years to come. After all, interesting topics on Twitter deserve a hashtag; babies don’t.

What do you think of the parent’s decision to name their child “Hashtag?” Do you think that these types of names will become more popular as social media use increases? Answer in the comments below.

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Image courtesy of www.slate.com

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