"Teens get a lot of warnings that we aren't mature enough to understand that everything we post online is permanent, but parents should also reflect about their use of social media and how it could potentially impact their children's lives as we become young adults."  
- Sonia Bokhair, 14 years old

Have you discovered the new Comedy Central Show The Other Two yet? It's my  most recent obsession. It's a heartwarming and hysterical story about two older siblings coming to terms with their younger brother's instant Internet fame. It's not what you think it would be. The older siblings aren't jealous. The younger brother isn't a total brat. The mom actually means well. It's a super entertaining show about family coping with fame in the age of social media.  (Check out NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour's discussion on the show here.)
 
I'm not surprised that I love the show. I have grown increasingly interested in the role parents play in how their children interact with social media. I was taken by this recent Fast Company article  I'm 14, and I quit social media after discovering what was posted about me by Sonia Bokhair, an eighth grader who discovered that her mother and older sister had been building her digital footprint without her consent.

In the article, Sonia conveys her thoughts on discovering what her family had been posting while she wasn't even allowed to have her own accounts. She says, " I realized that while this might have been the first time I was allowed on social media, it was far from the first time my photos and stories had appeared online. When I saw the pictures that she had been posting on Facebook for years, I felt utterly embarrassed, and deeply betrayed." What an important perspective!  I often wonder how adolescents are not screaming about hypocrisy all the time. "No, you can't be on Facebook yet but can I take a quick pic of you in that cute outfit? I want to post it." 
 
 

And what about the lucrative careers parents are designing for their young children on social media? On March 1, the NY Times published the article  Online and Making Thousands, at Age 4: Meet the Kidfluencers.
The article explores how some families with kids as young as 2 are buidling an enormous social media following, some getting $20K for a single sponsored post. One parent is quoted as saying   "Samia's birth video is on YouTube, so sh e's pretty much been born into social media." Is this the new normal? Is it okay? Should we be worried for Samia? Or will she see her bank account when she's older and think her parents did right by her? 

KC Stauffer has 4 million Instagram followers. Most of her posts highlight her 4-year old twins. @fashion_laerta has 1.2 million Instagram followers and her profile says she's "managed by team and mom."  8 year-old Coco has 687K followers and the coolest wardrobe I've ever seen. 


I follow  them all. I am fascinated by this part of social media culture. It brings together so many things I spend time thinking about. Celebrity culture! Social media and youth! The responsibility of tech companies! Parenting!  I wonder what lessons the next generation will take away from adult's use of social media. Are we guiding them in the right direction?  Can we do better? 
 

With presentation titles that include What the top kid-YouTubers tells us ab out kids today,   What does the internet know about you?, and  Media Literacy and Our Youngest Learners, our upcoming national conference will surely include conversations that touch on these very topics. I hope you plan to join us!  Early Bird Registration  is available until April 22. Take advantage of the rates and register today!   


Please also take a moment to nominate someone for one of the many  awards we will be giving out this year. We will be honoring an outstanding teacher, researcher, and a long time volunteer as well as exceptional media content. Take a moment to share your input on who you think deserves to be honored. Your voice matters!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. If you find yourself with a free half hour, check out The Other Two* and let me know what you think. 

All the best, 

Michelle Ciulla Lipkin's signature 



Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, Executive Director



mciullalipkin@namle.net
@medialiteracyed
@ciullalipkin




*Not appropriate for children!!!!