No Parent Left Behind!

I read a recent post on Facebook and an article at cnn.com called, “Are your kids safe online? Facebook, PTA want to make sure” By Doug Gross, CNN.  Great article explaining the partnership between Facebook and the national Parent Teacher Association and their forthcoming project to empower children, parents and teachers with the knowledge they need to “harness the power of the internet effectively and safely.”  I am ALL IN!!! 

Then I read the second comment on Facebook left by James.  He writes, “Whatever happened to good parenting? Do todays parents need FB and The PTA to watch their kids? Maybe parents need to stop acting like kids and start acting like adults.”

James’ comment stirred me to rebut…here is my response:

James, I would agree to a certain extent that some parents are more hands-off these days.  But honestly, I don’t see that as being the primary driver to what Facebook and the national PTA is attempting to do.  I see this effort attempting to address two primary objectives.  First, educate parents on digital awareness and on-line safety.  Let’s face it, students today are far more comfortable with technology than many adults so it is very important to get the parents up to speed, informed and as comfortable with the technology.  Here’s a practical example from my own life…(I’m older so it has nothing to do with technology but same theory applies)…my mother was deathly afraid of water when I was a kid…so rather than educating herself, learning how to swim and then helping me learn, she just told me to say away from the water.  So either I was going to miss out on fun times at the pool or I would go behind her back and get someone else to show me what I needed to know.  You can guess what I did…and what most kids would do.  So let’s educate the parents so our kids don’t have to learn from others who may not have their best interests at heart.

Second, I see this effort as a way to teach students how to apply their moral and ethical convictions to their on-line lives.  Parents who aren’t hands-off do a decent job of passing along their moral and ethical values to their kids in their every-day, real-world interactions.  But if those parents aren’t as involved in their kids on-line lives, the kids may have struggles recognizing immoral or unethical behaviors, particularly if they are only surrounded with other kids who have the same struggles.  It is very important, in my opinion, that kids see that adults function well in a technology infused world because I believe we teach them as much by what we do as what we say.

So I applaud Facebook and the national PTA for their commitment to on-line safety because social network is here to stay.

Now if I squint my eyes really tight and tilt my head slightly I can see through James’ comment to see a point I do agree with…parents must parent.  I am not of the “It Takes a Village” persuasion, at all!  But with respect to becoming technology infused, I would have to be in total disagreement with James and his suggestion that parents need to stop acting like kids.  In-fact, I say just the opposite. 

Parents should act exactly like kids, embrace technology with open arms and an open mind…see it for the value it brings to the table, the wealth of knowledge it lays at the fingertips of society today.  I support all efforts to promote the use of technology and especially one that brings parents closer to their kids.  I believe kids who have positive, supportive relationships with their parents and their teachers are more well-rounded and will have a far better chance of becoming a productive member of society.

Just so you know, I’m not all that naïve, I know Facebook is involved for many reasons.  Clearly FB is looking for opportunities to improve their image following all the negative press regarding what much of the world perceived as their privacy problem(I disagree with much of the world about this..I know, shocking, right?… read about that here).  I also know Facebook’s fastest growing segment of users is those users who are 35 years old and up(see the links below).  And this FB/PTA initiative hits their fastest growing demographic square between the eyes.  Let’s face it, FB is a for-profit entity and the 35+ demo probably has more money to spend with advertisers than the 13 to 17 demo. 

But honestly, whatever the motive, educating the parenting adults in the area of technology is an awesome endeavor and again, I applaud Facebook for their involvement. 

No Parent Left Behind!

Oh, and thank you Amy and Liz for your kind words on the FB discussion thread.

2010 Data…The strongest growth remains in the 55+ segment at 35.3% (3,443,460 users) – http://www.istrategylabs.com/2010/06/facebook-demographics-and-statistics-report-june-2010-%e2%80%93-privacy-concerns-dont-stop-growth/

2009 Year – 35-54 = 328.1% growth and 55+ = 922.7% growth – http://www.istrategylabs.com/2010/01/facebook-demographics-and-statistics-report-2010-145-growth-in-1-year/