Social Media and Those Little Pitchers With Big Ears and Eyes
I have used social media both personally and in professional media communications as press secretary for the Minnesota Secretary of State. I have read many articles on the power of social media and have seen and used that power to reach my targeted audiences many times. Professionally, I was good at it. Personally, there are times when I wished I would have been more thoughtful and posted differently.
Sometimes the effect of social media on small children and their emotional health troubles my conscience. Today is one of those days.
We hear so much about bullying in the media. Yes, bullying is everywhere, everyone at one time has either been bullied or been a bully. I am as victimized and guilty on that score as the next person. I strongly believe that intimidating people or trying to emotionally hurt people for personal reasons is always a bad thing to do. I do not believe that loving parents, as a rule, would ever emotionally or mentally abuse their children on purpose in person or in social media.
However, how many of us think of the adverse emotional impact of some of the things we as adults and parents put on Facebook or Tweet about our young children. If the children are of reading age or have siblings or friends that can repeat what they see online, how are our comments received? As funny or hurtful, critical, crushing? Do we set them up for bullying among their siblings and peers?
Do we think about the message we are sending to that precious child/children when we put our frustrations in writing, which as adults we see as funny and can relate too online, about the challenges of being alone with our children, being a single parent or how hard it is being a stay at home mom? Will that child think that the parent doesn’t want them, doesn’t like them or think they are bad?
I have been thinking about how it would have made me feel to know that my parent took the time to write down a complaint, share it with friends and then know that those friends agreed with my parent that I as a child, was difficult, too busy, too noisy or whatever. Sometimes as an adult, I still get my feelings hurt by things that are said or not said by friends and family. Imagine how crushing it would feel to a young and innocent soul to have that hurt come from a parent you greatly love and for all the world to see.
I am glad that I am not a child in today’s social media world. It was hurtful enough in my generation when a parent lost control due to stress and said things that were hurtful, later regretted and apologized for. Words scar the mind and heart and oftentimes those wounds heal slowly or not at all. Just Saying….