Time columnist Bonnie Roachman recently called out blogger Kate Tietje for publicly posting about how she loves one of her children over the other. Tietje’s post (and Roachman’s reaction) is a fantastic example of the Pandora’s box of issues parents open when they “overshare” using technology.
I’m all about self expression. But as a parent learning to embrace technology, there’s a fine line between self-expression and TMI in the tech sphere. (“Too much information” for those new the world of text abbreviations.) Personal blogging, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, can be a powerful way to communicate, but it has its downside, as Tietje has likely learned, since her post has been shut down to comments and she has since published a post in her defense.
Earlier on my Techno(t)parent journey, I posted some “common sense” tips for parents to share with their kids regarding technology usage. Now that I’m knee-deep into my blogging experiment, I think I can safely recap some of my Techno(t)parent learnings to help other parents so they’re not inadvertently caught in any Tietje-type tech crossfire:
1) When you post personal information on your blog, it will live on *forever* in cyberspace – definitely long enough for you kids/spouse/family to read it. As I’ve said before, tech is a great forum, but don’t share anything via technology that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of your local newspaper or might cause your family grief ten years from now.
2) When you use tech tools, you’re no longer anyonymous. If you write, post, text or otherwise publicly share something polarizing behind the safety of the “tech curtain”, rest assured, people will share their own opinions on your post – for good or bad. It’s hard to play the “victim card” or back pedal in the tech arena, so think twice before you post, and always be prepared for a public reaction.
3) When you publicly post pictures of yourself, your kids or other family members, you become a public figure. For better or worse, like reality TV stars, your life becomes public when you put yourself in the spotlight. Be prepared for in-person praise and criticism, especially if your followers know what you look like, the town you live in or the stores you patronize. (See #2) Your job or career path may also be impacted by what you post, so tread carefully.
3) Use technology for good. Educate, inform, and share funny stories, insights, tips and lessons learned. Provide value. Ask questions. Save the negative rants, guilty admissions or hurtful comments for your diary, vs. a public blog post, Tweet, or text you might regret later. (See #1)
4) Model well. Demonstrate safe digital behavior and good digital maners. Don’t text while driving, don’t take photos of people without their knowledge, or talk on the phone at the checkout counter. Be the responsible, smart, tech-savvy person you want your kids to be.
5) Be a parent first. There are millions of great ways to use technology to help you parent, complete tasks, simplify chores and projects and gain knowledge. But monitor the time suck. You can spend hours interacting with others via technology at the expense of connecting with your own family, so use your tech time wisely. Set your limits, and then have fun.