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Childrearing

Newsflash: Your Kids Can Learn Their Digital Etiquette From You

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The Today show did a segment this morning encouraging the frantic worry of parents over their daughters’ Facebooking and texting habits. And if the background music of N’Sync’s “Digital Get Down” didn’t convey to you how behind those experts are in understanding kids, their advice should have.

It seems that the encouraged parental response to avid social media use in their kids is to spy on them. Whether it’s specific spyware geared to give you instant updates regarding your kid’s online behavior or demanding their password, these parenting tactics are founded in distrust. Patrolling your daughter’s Facebook wall is the contemporary equivalent to cracking her diary while she is at a friend’s house, and suggests not only a lack of confidence in children and their choices, but also a severe gap in parent/child communication.

Social media I doubt will go away. If anything, the platform will continue to evolve and to be used in different, unpredictable ways. The medium has challenged all of us in that there is not tradition of etiquette to follow regarding what is suitable for posting and what is not. We’re all learning (some of us more quickly than others), and it’s up to kids to acquire these skills too. Infantilizing them with parental spying tactics and Facebook checkups tells children that they’re not capable of developing these skills on their own.

Adults are just as obsessed with social media as children are, as STFU Parents continues to remind us. Parents who take issue with their children’s digital behavior, whether it’s frantic texting or constant Facebook updating, should set their own precedent by exhibiting their own conservative social media and cell phone use. But if you’re just as consumed with your own smartphone and tweets, than how are your children supposed to know otherwise?

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