I help people to be kind online. Besides the fact this means my kids think we talk about “online stuff” way too often, it also means people often tag me in social media posts that have to do with kindness and the online world.
Like this one:“Did you see this episode of Blackish? You must! So timely and funny. And also scary!”I had not seen this episode, and I will be totally honest in saying I am a marketer’s dream, and couldn’t wait to click over to see what this woman had found. She didn’t disappoint.In a short, pithy, and poignant scene from the show Blackish (S3 Ep11). Mom shows dad their daughter’s inappropriate Instagram posts. He’s shocked. He’s dismayed. He’s busted.Mom makes the point that if he is looking at and “liking” sexy photos on Instagram, then his daughter will absolutely get the message that these kinds of photos are a-okay and why wouldn’t she post photos like these of herself?In my opinion: Mic drop.
When I shared this clip with my opinion attached to it, though, a thoughtful reader responded with the note below:“As adults don’t we get to have more privileges on the Internet than our kids do? I agree that we need to be good role models, but what a 14-year-old posts and likes is much different than what a 40-year-old posts and likes. How do we find the balance?”Such a good point, right?There is – absolutely – a difference between what our kids post and what we post online. Because this terrain is new for all of us, it’s tricky to know the exact ground rules. But if you haven’t already guessed … I am 100% with Blackish here. I’m going to tell you why in a second, but I think it’s super important to note that this reader is not alone in her opinion!Kelly Wallace wrote a detailed report for CNN in December 2016 where she detailed how many of the same problems that our kids face with the online world – not knowing when to disconnect, understanding what online privacy really means and doesn’t mean, falling prey to FOMO. I think that most of us can attest to muddling through these things as well. We are, after all, the first generation of parents and educators raising digital kids without having been them. This means we’re creating our online habits at the exact same time as we’re trying to teach our kids about them. This isn’t for the faint of heart! The difference is that so many people view the struggles like the ones I mentioned above as problems with kids and as just the way it is with adults.So here’s why I disagree with this philosophy.While it’s true that being an adult does, of course, have some privileges attached to it, the consequences of over-sharing, internet addiction, and more people than our intended audience always – truly always – having the potential of viewing our social media shares do not just lie with our kids.Not only that, but our kids are looking to us as examples for what’s okay to do online and what’s not. We are, truly, always modeling.So this does mean, at the very least, thinking twice about our social media posts and likes and, in the best-case scenario, talking to our kids openly and honestly about our online behaviors and theirs.There is a balance here, but it doesn’t lie in separate rules for adults and kids, it lies with opening up this conversation far and wide with our kids and being aware that our online actions absolutely impact our kids.