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Social media struggles

February 1, 2010

I’ve been involved in online social communities for over a decade now. I joined iVillage way back when I was a new mother, seeking information from other new moms. As my family grew, we moved around quite a bit – 4 times in 5 years! My online friends often numbered my IRL friends, and provided me with a much needed sense of stability. Some of the friendships made back then still exist today.

More recently, Web 2.0 applications have been a big part of my library school career. My first class required students to start a blog, sign up for RSS feeds, learn about podcasts. Social media have figured in almost all of my other coursework, whether it’s just participating in a chat with another student for an assignment or doing a video conference for a graded project. Next semester I am taking Technology in Educational Organizations, where I will learn how to integrate all these new technologies and media into teaching students. All this to say that I really get how prevalent (and pervasive?) all this technology is.

As the mom to a 12 year old though, my feelings for all these venues are a bit more ambivalent. My son has begged and pleaded for a Facebook account, and has been told as many times that he has to wait until he is 13. His main interest is chatting with his friends, and I’ve been told how “old” and “lame” AIM is, and that nobody even bothers with that anymore. He also wants to play some of the games on Facebook, some of which are admittedly good. So being the understanding mom that I am, I came up with what I thought was a good compromise: I would friend some of his friends on my account, and he could chat with them on my account. I figured this would work well – he could chat, I could monitor it all, and this would be good practice for when he finally does get his own account.

Apparently this was not good at all. I discovered recently that my son decided to start up his own Facebook account using a fictitious name, date of birth, and email account. To say that I was mad would be a gross understatement. To say that he was repentent upon being discovered would be untrue.

I’m trying to frame this all as a learning experience, as we’ve had what I hope are good conversations about this. I hope he’s learned that it doesn’t pay to sneak around. I’ve certainly learned that constant vigilance is needed when you’re parenting Internet-savvy kids.

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