Psychology 101: Interesting Times Ahead in a Post-Social Media World, Part 1

This is a touchy subject. It is a new subject.  How do we conduct ourselves in an increasingly social media oriented world? More specifically, how do we conduct our children’s lives in this place of 24/7 updates with a false sense of cyber security (please remember, nothing is beyond the reach of hackers on the world-wide web)?

The way I see it, all psychology textbooks have been rendered out of date.  We are in new territory now with children coming of age in a time where their childhoods have been chronicled in varying detail from the cute photo updates to the less savory like specifying their latest growing pains snafu.

This is personal. So personal that none of us has a right to tell the other how to do this. We are doing it and the lessons from it are due to come in soon. Some adults will be largely unaffected by growing up with their lives an open digital scrapbook for others to see since most of their contemporaries have the same story.

Speaking of stories, some children will grow up to find out as they read back in old “feeds” that their childhood was quite idyllic with perhaps a splash of sarcastic satire.  Undoubtedly there will be some disillusioned as what they see is not what they feel when they render their upbringing.  There are countless combinations of emotions and overall psychological profiles that will emerge because of this new evolution of human behavior of “sharing” and “liking” in a digital cloud.

As a parent myself, I have carved out my own code of conduct in agreement with my husband regarding how we share our family online.  If I would dare to share unsolicited advice to other parents it would be to try to diversify your child’s historical record by not limiting it to your online social media service.  Try a handwritten journal to them throughout their growing years, ask them as they become more independent in their adolescence if they want their life chronicled online, et cetera.

While the anthropologists of the world may be very anxious about the recent discovery of bones in a South African cave and what it means for humans today, I would argue that the biggest discovery is yet to be unveiled in upcoming years in the psychological profiles of the post-millenial generation (either known as gen-edge or gen-z).

R.V.S.B.

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Price of Privacy: Isolation or Ignorance?

price of privacy june 24 2013

Follow the Rabbit

Thanks to Edward J. Snowden’s current life adventure, the question of our privacy in 2013 and beyond has come into question again. Mr. Snowden isn’t so special, however, as there’s weekly news bulletins that highlight how transparent we’ve become whether we know or like it—hardly anything is a secret.

Remember the Red Seal?

There was a time when official state or personal correspondence was sealed with a wax imprint to ensure the privacy of its contents. Today we may have certified mail or services like FedEx for direct correspondence but the majority of us conduct both professional and personal discourse through the internet and phone texts. There’s no guarantee that these interactions are safe from unwanted monitoring or hacking.

Blame the Governments?

The fact remains that the U.S. government is unable to truly “spy” on everyone’s conversations or internet blah-blah: there simply isn’t enough manpower and the computer algorithms in place are just barely keeping up with the real terrorist/hostile enemy threats to U.S. citizens and interests. Personal responsibility remains the ugly elephant in the room—when you log in or have your phone on, you are placing yourself in a vulnerable position.

Perception is Revealing

The next time you post photos on your social media website of choice, try to imagine that you just ran them on one of the huge screens at New York City’s Time Square and any other major metropolis in the world. Let’s take that a step further and consider that the text you sent earlier today blasting your boss was retrieved by your human resources department at the job—oops. An entire article could respectively be devoted to the exposure of our financial, medical and other very personal assets in this “connected” world.

Concede or Recede?

I personally don’t know what the answer is to this question of our privacy in the 21st century. It must be a conversation we continue to have without too much malice for one group or another–respect for each other is the best foundation to find what’s our common ground.  Please remember that those who work in the government are still people just like you and me. In order to live freely in America we’ve had compromise through the decades of contentious things like the Civil War, Civil Rights and now access to information–personal or public.

R.V.S.Bean

note: for those catching up on news of Mr. Snowden, a recent New York Times article found here http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/world/europe/snowden-case-carries-a-cold-war-aftertaste.html?_r=0

and I recommend watching Ben Affleck’s “Argo” for a Hollywood-style reality check on just how deadly information in the wrong hands can be (I’m sure there are many other films in this category, this was the most recent I’ve watched-cheers!)

Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

In The Economist magazine’s June 9, 2012 issue there’s a short piece on page 18 entitled: “Facebook and children: Let the nippers network”. You should be able to read it at this link: http://www.economist.com/node/21556578  I will be quoting from this article in my blog post unless otherwise indicated.

The article can be boiled down to what it says at the start of the second paragraph: “There are two options. Facebook can either try harder to prevent children from joining, or it can let them in, but with safeguards.”  This is the new frontier for most of us parents, the age of social networking via cyberspace.  At a time when many of us are becoming parents for the first time and just barely catching our breath as we realized the responsibility of raising these boys and girls to be the adults of the future–we’re struck with a very real concern regarding what age is deemed appropriate for a child to begin interacting socially on the internet.

“Social networking does not cause cancer. There is no compelling reason why children should not socialise with each other online.  What is worrying is that those on Facebook  today are treated as if they were adults.”

While this statement has truth to it in its logical argument, I’m afraid it’s lacking the deeper problem that should be glaringly obvious.  Just because a child can use the technology and can respond/communicate on a social network online doesn’t mean it’s right for them to do unfettered or unsupervised.

This may seem like a leap of a correlation to make, however, this is eerily the same argument we face when discussing ad nauseam as to when is the right age for youngsters to engage in sexual activity.  So what if their bodies are physically able to engage starting from 10-14 years old, does that mean they should be allowed to carry on as if it’s their deserved rite of passage? Oh, but if we give them condoms and pills, that should take care of them just fine from preventing unwanted pregnancies–nevermind how this early sexual behavior may interfere with their physical, mental and emotional development.

“Far better to let children openly join Facebook and create a safer environment for them to socialise in.”

Understandably, we all understand that as long as we have rules there are those who will break them.  The response to the age requirement for alcohol consumption is to have those who will attain illegal IDs.  The current trend for those under-13s on Facebook is that they can enroll anyway when they lie about their age in the form.  But the notion that we should just “let children” go ahead and do Facebook anyways as long as it’s “safe” is preposterous.

Q: What Is Safe About The Internet? A: NOTHING

Here’s the reality: you are the parent/guardian of your child(ren), therefore you are the most powerful gatekeeper when it comes to all the gateway rites of passage for your fledgling humans.  I don’t expect Zuckerburg and his people at Facebook to be the shepherd of the social pasture online for our kids.  That sentiment extends to any of these social networking sites.

The fact remains that we are still learning lessons today about what has happened to us since most of us came of age with integrating usage of the World Wide Web in our personal and professional lives.  It’s aggravating  to witness this hasty resignation attitude reflected in The Economist and other publications when it comes to the idea of children participating in social networking.

One more note on the internet: please keep in mind that no matter what your “settings” are, NOTHING is private when you post on the internet. Consider that when you put photos or written word onto the internet in any form, it’s as if you just submitted them to the marquee at Times Square in New York City. Please think about this seriously in regards to your children-whether it is you or them posting such things.

Nightmare Fodder: “Facebook and other social networks already have millions of vulnerable, clandestine underage users. It is time to bring them into the light.”

Why do we feel that we have no relationship with our children after they hit 5 years old?  Statements like the above disturb my heart’s fabric because I don’t understand how it is that there are 10 year olds who are participating in social networking unbeknownst to their parents/caregivers while they have hardly cut their physical teeth in face-to-face contact with their peers and others.

Again, I admit that I wrestle within over my love-hate relationship with the media technology that our global society has exploded with since I was born.  At the same time, I also recognize that there is not a quick and decisive answer to this social networking debate.  We are on the ground floor of learning about it ourselves and how it affects us all, including our children.  The question you and I must ask is what is best for our child(ren) as individuals and that will be the start of finding what “light” it is we want them to be in.

R.V.S.Bean

The New Extreme Sport and Other MMBs

THE BIG THREE: 3 Mom Media Bites (MMBs)

As the mother now of two sons, both now 3 years old and 3 months respectively, I have been navigating this new season as a Northern Atlantic fisherman’s boat tries to keep from top-sizing in hurricane strength swells. The writer in me has been posting “tweets” of countless questioning thoughts and resulting conclusions to my mind’s running page but never on paper, or as in the case of this post, in digital form. So in my humble attempt to disperse some of this philosophical and reflective backup, here are a few of my latest ramblings for your entertainment or information:

Road-Tripping with Tots: The New Extreme Sport

About a month ago, I embarked on a road trip with my sons that included stops in three different states. The goal was to make it to a very important event for one in my closest circle and it became an opportunity to visit other friends and family along the way as well. I did consider the plan ahead of time and certainly realized there were many calculations to be made in order for this trip solo with the boys to be successful. An energetic toddler and an unpredictable newborn were quite the duo to consider, mapping the actual driving route was the easiest consideration. In retrospect, I was best able to explain the trip as an “extreme sport”. I had to make clear plans like what time of day to depart, how to ensure that total driving time each day wasn’t more than 4-5 hours and coupling nursing stops with bathroom breaks, et cetera. At the same time I had to continually accept the fact that I needed to allow for unexpected delays, stops (especially with a nursing infant) and changes in plans of activities or driving. For instance, there was about a 2 hour stretch in the middle of nowhere-Georgia land that I just had to keep my cool with a few factors pulling at me including the fact that I missed a turn and was on a country road where there farms and churches but no gas stations. It ended up being a 10 day trip that went relatively smoothly and I was exhausted upon arrival home but felt that my relationship with the boys had actually hit some great milestones.

Weiner-gate and Foley Redux

In recent weeks the cable news and print media has had the gift of a story that keeps giving in the reporting of soon-to-be-resigned U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revealing photos being “tweeted” via Twitter to women other than his wife. Last week I was able to watch some of the coverage and came to the Fox News channel that had Mark Foley in an interview with Sean Hannity. I hadn’t seen my ex-boss on national television in an interview since his political fall from grace in the fall of 2006 and it was a little jarring to my system. Couldn’t believe the sheer irony of it all—here was my ex-boss who had his Congressional career crumpled by his misuse of time as a Florida representative with the AOL instant messenger service and here now is Congressman Anthony Weiner “tweeting” photos of himself actually IN his Congressional office to his countless lady friends while married to a high profile government aid. Sadly, many of us are still surprised that history evidently teaches us nothing as in the case of Mr. Weiner. I thought that what Foley was punished for was seared in the minds of active politicians; a stern warning to stay off of the digital highway whether by personal computer, laptop, cell phone, Ipad or whatever is next when it comes to the personal indiscretions. It seems that the more we advance in this information age, the more impulsive our actions become that truly blurs our decision-making. In the case of these two gentleman and countless others, we’ve forgotten that privacy is not insured when communicating through cyber/digital hardware—we ought to assume that everything could at any time be posted on the screens in Times Square in New York City.

The Beach: Still the Best Village to Raise Children

Living in South Florida affords me the luxury of going to the beach often and I never take it for granted after residing in other states for several years. What I love about the salty air and sticky sand is that there is a general lack of other stimuli. Most people who routinely go to the beach are there to enjoy the raw nature of two major elements of our planet coming together: land and sea. It is also the thrill of that ebbing dance that draws me to bring my children there a few times a week. I hope to teach them about their environment while also giving them the freedom to run, dance, shout and becoming caked with sand and salt ruthlessly. Running into other parents and their children has also been refreshing and disappointing at times but I’m grateful for the experiences regardless. My children have the opportunity to interact with others, they learn to share and when to walk away. The parents get to small talk and swap ideas on raising children without any commitment to follow-up. I have also met some of my current friends at the shoreline (both Pacific and Atlantic) and strengthened existing friendships there that help enrich my life and thereby my children’s lives.

R.V.S.B.

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"