Social Media for Children

After all this discussion of how social media benefits mentors and mentees, I started thinking how it can benefit children still in school. To get more insight into how kids are already using social media, I contacted my friend and one of my first mentors, Jen Reeves. Jen is a former News Producer and Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow. She has worked for the University of Missouri as a Journalism Professor and Executive Producer at KOMU-TV 8.

Jen used technology to change the structure, organization and workflow of the KOMU newsroom. She now works as KOMU’s New Media Manager and leads the ongoing developments at She is working on finding ways to expand traditional media by using non-traditional media delivery sources (podcasting, vodcasting and other on-demand and push technologies that can deliver content). In other words, she’s my favorite go to expert.

Jen has two adorable children, Cameron and Jordan. Both of them have blogs written by Jen as a way to keep friends and family in touch with the goings on of the busy family. Jen has turned Cameron’s over to him in a limited way and plans to do so with Jordan’s when she is old enough.

Additionally, now that Cameron is in elementary school, she encourages him to play with Webkinz and Club Penguin from time to time, when he’s interested of course.

“In those spaces, kids are able to interact by sharing items and ‘money’ but the only way to communicate is through pre-formatted sentences. There is no way to go outside the topics at hand,” Jen said.

Translation, this is a safe way for kids to get comfortable using social media and easily learn what is and is not acceptable.

As more Millennials delve into the world of parenthood, those children will grow up thinking a constant connection to the internet via phone or laptop is normal. Teaching these children safe internet practices, especially on social media, should start early, just as Jen has done.

Are your children on social media? Which sites? How do you monitor their online behaviors?

Work Family Blur

I recently read a great article about blurring the line between your work life and family life, especially if you have kids. One point the author mentions is to not talk about your kids every minute of every day. We all know someone like this at work, they have nothing to say if it isn’t about Billy’s first steps or Suzy sat up!

I do not have children. I do not care that Billy took his first steps of Suzy sat up. I find the constant talk of children and their events annoying and irreverent to the workplace. I’m not saying don’t share great news, but to those of us without kids developmental milestones aren’t important.

Furthermore, I see many co-workers who do have children abuse that fact. While a childless employee gets reamed for being five minutes late, a parent can get away with being a half hour late or taking a two hour lunch because Billy “just wouldn’t get dressed” or Suzy “spilled milk every where.”

It isn’t just in the corporate world, either. As a journalist all someone had to say was I can’t stay because I have to pick up so and so from daycare and that was enough to get the story assigned to someone else. Childless employees often got stuck with overtime and cancelled plans.

I talked with a friend of mine who has been burned more than I in this kind of situation. Her thoughts include, “let’s not forget working every holiday because people with kids are somehow mandated by God to get to spend it with their kids and getting REAMED for being ‘insensitive’ if you speak out against the injustice. If a woman at the grocery store is overwhelmed with her mouth breathers, why is it my job to offer help vs. get the shit stare? It was her choice to have children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be kind but when did it become a required expectation?”

To her the bottom line is the assumption that if you don’t have kids, you have “gobs of time and the ability to work twofer – that is two employees worth of work.”

She wants to know, why do kids get to be an automatic pass to easy street or a “doctor’s note” explaining away persistently negligent and disruptive workplace behavior?

“I’m not saying isolated incidences don’t occur, they happen to us all, but anything more than once every two weeks needs to be called out,” she said.

The different standard for employees with children as those without frustrates me. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution. I’m open to any and all suggestions for dealing with this.