Parents are Their Children’s First Agent

Parenting is a tough job, and the Internet and social networks add a new dimension that previous generations didn’t have to deal with.

True, every generation had societal changes: from rock and roll in the 50s; free love and drugs in the 60s and 70s; and the chat rooms of the 90s. But the lightning speed of technology change and the pervasive influence of constantly streaming media and pop culture make it especially hard for parents to keep up today. What parent hasn’t looked at a teen at least once and thought “I have no idea how to handle this?”

Social networks and blogs have become so common and make it incredibly easy for parents to share every detail about their precious children. With the first posting of a birth announcement, a parent becomes the agent for a child’s personal brand. Pictures, videos and information posted about children can be shared, forwarded, and remain accessible forever. What’s the big deal, you ask? Beyond the potential embarrassment that an adorable video may cause, mom or dad could unintentionally damage a child’s brand, or even put their safety at risk.

Consider the parent who posts on Facebook about their daughter’s ongoing struggle with headaches including missed school days and an unending stream of doctors and medical tests. True, her friends empathize and support her, but what if a friend of a friend is considering hiring this young lady and finds out about the headaches? Could her mother’s postings brand her as a risk to employ? Or could the admissions department of an exclusive private school deny admission to the preschooler whose parent blogs about his diagnosed dyslexia?

Digital citizenship is not just something we need to teach to our students. It’s a responsibility we need to extend to parents, so they can be the best possible springboards for their children’s success.