You’ve Come a Long Way Baby – Gen Y Teaches a Lesson on SM Boundaries

Come a long way baby

I’m the proud parent of a lovely, lively, Gen Y Goddess who is creating her own success in the advertising world. Of course, part of her greatness is because she had such a smart Mama giving her advice along the way. ;>

Baby’s come a long way, and turned the tables back around on me, teaching me a valuable lesson in observing appropriate Social Media boundaries with our offspring.  Just because we were the ones who used to monitor their on line activities as kids, doesn’t mean we get to set the rules arbitrarily now that we’re all adults, because they’re still our kids, right? 

Wrong, and we may make mistakes in interacting with our kids within SM channels if we don’t listen when they set limits of their own. 

We were ‘those’ parents every teen dreaded having.  Geeks.  Couldn’t hide a thing online or on the hard drive from the likes of us, and when she was grounded from the computer as punishment, that meant Dad whipped up a nifty little app that would cut off connectivity to her pc only from 10:00 p.m. nightly until 4:00 p.m. the next day.  All sorts of configuration options, (far better than NetNanny,) would allow us to control the who, what, where and when of her online activities.  Sucked to be her.

We had to make it up as we went along back then, but now there are many great resources writing about Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation for guidance with kids of all ages. Articles like this one offer great advice about managing SM with your kids, but few articles give adequate pointers on engaging with your kids online in a way that won’t embarrass or upset their own goals.  It’s a learning process to work on together.

During the college years, the phone calls were great, but I often learned much more about how courses were going by checking out the latest pub party pics on FaceBook. 😉  Ya, I’m an online Stalker Mom. 

Still considering myself the more SM savvy of we two back then, I’d put on my professional hat and advise, “Nope, nope, nope!  Get those pics offline before you start kicking out resumes at graduation, Kid.  That won’t fly with potential employers.  You know they creep you online before interviews these days, right?”

She’d sigh, and sort of comply.

Through the years we’ve settled in to a comfortable style of communicating in channels like FB and Twitter, until I jumped the shark last week, which caused a genuine tiff between us.  She very politely told me that’d I’d overstepped a boundary by posting some old pictures in an FB album visible only to friends.

I got very huffy and defensive, reminding her that nothing on my FB could rival stuff on hers.  I didn’t get it.  It seemed hypocritical to me. I’ve posted pictures that we’ve laughed about many times, so what’s the big deal? I stayed mad for days, especially about one thing she’d said, “I don’t know your online friends.  They might not even be real for all I know!”

I felt incensed and insulted, until it finally clicked in. While I do know many of her friends personally, she doesn’t know who people in my sphere are, or what they think, or in what context I interact with them.  By posting pictures I wanted to share, I denied her the right of selecting her own audience and controlling her privacy boundaries. And those of now grown friends in those old pictures.

She was right, I was wrong.  (I admitted it in writing, Hun, can you believe that?)

It isn’t enough to just say, “Fine, I just won’t be your FB friend anymore!”

It’s more important to really talk about how we each use our various channels, and who is in them, and why, before deciding what is okay to share, and what makes the other uncomfortable. My friends, contacts, coworkers are mine – not hers.  I don’t get to set the rules of what’s acceptable online anymore.  We have to negotiate it carefully together.  And hopefully, grow, share & laugh along the way.

Baby’s come a long way, and she is a very wise Social Media Maven in her own right.  Thanks for the lesson & the reminder.

I’ll leave all of you other parents with this video to ponder. :d