A friend recently posted a link to a blog found on the Wait Until 8th site. The article was about how smartphones have changed the way kids experience the world, in particular, how they have changed what used to be an embarrassing moment into a viral video. You can read the article here, and I would encourage you to do so. While I am not sure that 8th grade is the “perfect” age for kids to get these devices or to be allowed on social media, I think the author brings a very good perspective on some of the issues that our kids face. This post is not about that in particular, but the article got me thinking about something else: parenting on social media.
Shortly after reading this article, I saw a viral video in which a dad posted a video of his daughter walking to school because she was kicked off the bus for bullying. His post went viral and everyone had a take on whether or not making her walk to school was a justified punishment for her actions. Again, not really my concern in this post. What no one was really talking about was whether or not its a good idea to post a video of your kid’s punishment on social media.
The reality is that everyone makes mistakes, every single kid is going to do something dumb at some point. I got caught driving like 60mph down an ally in a tiny Ford Focus fleeing the scene after wrapping someone’s yard. (It might actually have been like 30 or 40 but it felt fast in an ally.) We all do dumb things. Your kid, no matter how good, will eventually do something stupid. That doesn’t make it right, it just means its part of growing up in a broken world.
I hate that I’m old enough to say this…but when I was in school, your punishments were largely between you and your parents. You might tell your closest friends and some other people may find out, depending on how publicly you made the mistake. But for the most part, punishment stayed at home. We could make a mistake, take the consequences, and move on.
The teacher posting in “Wait Until 8th” has the same problem with smartphones in school that I have with parenting on social media. It keeps kids from moving past the mistake. It opens a dialogue that doesn’t need to be opened. When your kid gets to school, all their peers and some of their teachers will know they are being punished and have some sort of commentary on it. Either mocking the kid for their mistake or mocking them for having parents that punished the mistake.
This opens a discussion between kids and other parents about how you parent, creating doubt about your parenting even with your kids. You need help and advice on parenting, everyone does, you do not need social commentary on your parenting. Additionally, your kids need to be able to move on. They need to be able to make a mistake and learn that mistakes have consequences, then they need to be able to move on with life.
I know some will disagree with me, but I see every week what this weird permanence is doing to our students. Too much of what they do and too many of the mistakes they make are put out there for the world to judge. Please consider this before you post about your kid’s punishment and mistake. Does the world, do all of their peers and teachers, does the random lady down the street who added you on Instagram and Facebook really need to know what your kid did and how you dealt with it?