Modern Family: Social Media & Parenting

When interpersonal relationships and social media collide, the virtual world faces some scrutiny from the physical world. Questions arise as to whether or not relationships can strive in cyberspace, and as to whether or not social media usage affects physical world relationships. For this second blog, in looking at mediated interpersonal relationships, I found an interesting blog that discusses the dynamics of social media and how it may be affecting the relationship between parents and their kids: “Is Social Media Affecting Your Relationship With Your Kids?”. It shows how our society can easily turn our youth into zombie-like cyborgs unable to detach from the media. The blog uses a great international commercial to demonstrate this potential overly plugged in culture, but also how we should avoid the dangers of our communication devices, and that we must disconnect to connect. Mike McClure then goes onto exploring the opportunities for children to engage and become the “authors of their culture”. He includes a documentary from PBS where the commentator proclaims that we need to “flip the roles”, and allow our children to teach us about this new digital space. Exposing these harms and potentials of social media, McClure is allowing his audience to ponder their own social media use and reach, be them a parent or not. Values and presentation are explored through the debates on the effects of children and social media and their relation to their parents. Looking into the effects on families, he is looking at parents who hold a knowledge and utilization of social media. Seeing social media as a way to connect to their kids, McClure states that, “One interesting trend was the divide between those with younger kids and those with older ones.  Those with younger children were more torn on the issue. For them, it was a blend of social media causing problems and creating opportunities. The ones with older children were almost all positive on it being a way to connect with their kids.” Exploring this dichotomy, he leaves out the potential strains that social media can put on a family’s relationship. Parents, with younger children, are distracted by using social media and are taken away from the much needed attention they should be giving their child. However, I know relatives who use social media to help with parenting in the modern world. With one parent playing the stay at home role, the other who goes back into the office wishes to remain connected with their child’s progress. Social media has met this need with applications, such as Trixie Tracker and functions to keep all of the family connected. However, parents may have become disillusioned into believing that they are “keeping tabs” on their kids. The youth has become so technologically savvy that they can selectively choose what they want to show their parents, an element of social media that an older generation may not be in tune with, or may choose to not believe. Teens especially are heading to new outlets to keep their social lives out of their parents’ reach and technological grasp. In an interesting twist, parents use of social media can encourage and even entice their children to do the same. In Jason Spingar-Koff’s Life 2.0, a mother engaging in adulterous actions on the virtual reality game of Second Life inspired her daughter to join Club Penguin, an interactive community for tweens. Now who’s to say if the daughter will be able to break the cycle. She may become just as involved in an unhealthy virtual interaction that can tear apart at her physical world relationships, just as it did to her mother’s. The blog does not seem to explore the ever present dangers that cyberspace can create for their kids. Just like the playground, children can face bullies online, and it is a parent’s responsibility to actively monitor and engage in social media to be alert to their kids’ potential harms. Parents need to be educated in order to protect their children. By taking these steps, parents risk alienating their children and breaking trusts. Parents must walk the line between monitoring and controlling their kids’ social media use. How a parent approaches their child’s interaction with cyberspace can tell how a parent views their role in their child’s personal life. The discourse on this topic combines the disciplines of social media and its effects on children with the ideas of parenting in a modern society. The main blog for my discussion serves as a good spring board for discussion on the topic but does not really go beneath the exterior and only looks at the positive effects of social media on family relations. 

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4 Comments

  1. I wrote my post about relationships between boyfriends/girlfriends, and most of the discussions we have in class are in regards to relationships between peers but I find your post about social media between different generations very interesting and pertinent. Through Facebook, parents are able to see pictures that they would never usually be able to have access to, they also see wall posts and interactions with their kids that have never been available to them. Your comment about how parents are using these new availabilities to keep tabs on their kids is very interesting. Should parents know this side of their children? Or is this changing parenting as our culture has always understood it?

    Four Square has a “check in” with your mom application which is taking everyday issues from normal offline parenting and moving them online. On the contrasting side, Facebook has the ability for users to create “limited profiles” in which kids can pick and choose what they want their parents to see. Creating a limited profile is in fact building the boundary back up from parents invading on their children’s lives.

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  2. I think your post provides a lot of insight into different aspects of the issue concerning parents participating in social media. One part you discussed was how some believe that older generations want to connect with the younger ones through the use of social media. Yes, parents may be friends with their children on Facebook, but does this really create a stronger bond between them? I feel that kids on the web, use social media as an escape from their parents. They want to just have fun with their friends, whether it is talking about something that happened in the day, or as a source of entertainment. It’s sort of like questioning if you want your parents to join you and your friends at the mall for the day. Another thing I wonder is what will happen in the future with participants using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Will the younger generation now continue to use these sites when they get older? When we have our own families, will we be friends with our children on Facebook? What will our children think of that? Is this notion going to change because we are more of a tech-savvy generation as opposed to the older generation now?

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  3. With this thread, I think about how my face-to-face conversations have become altered or have changed due to Facebook with my family. Most of my conversations now begin with the “did you see on FB that…?” Even really juicy family gossip I find out through Facebook (and as soon as I find out about it, I call my Mom!). It’s incredible! But I also think about how much in-tune my family is with what’s going on in NYC, and how in-tune I am with what’s going with them back in California/Mexico! I am an avid user of the check-in feature incase I ever get kidnapped, too. My mom appreciates that. 😀

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