The Challenge Of Social Networking And Our Children’s Personal Brand

Kumar Gauraw

I guess you already figured out what I am going to discuss in this post from the title itself. However, if you don’t have kids, you can still participate in this conversation and perhaps, add some value from your perspective.

Cute Little Girls Playing With Their Smartphones Ignoring One Another In A Park - Social Media And Technology Effect

Social media, especially Facebook, is always a cause for concern among parents and a reason for friction in two different schools of thought.

Like all technology, social media is neutral but is best put to work in the service of building a better world.    ~Simon Mainwaring [tweet this]

One group of people thinks that Facebook and social media is evil and we should avoid it at all costs. Well, I don’t subscribe to that group and that is why this post is also not about them or for them.

The other group is of social media enthusiasts. I actively participate in this group for obvious reasons and this is what my online business is centered around.

But then, you know how powerful social media can be in building your personal brand, online reputation and growing your business at such a low cost if done right.

Similarly, it can also destroy your credibility completely faster than jet speed and ruin your business completely if you do it wrong.

What About Our Children?

We understand the rewards and implications of using social media and use it as we deem fit for  our business or branding needs.

But, when it comes to our children, it becomes a little tricky and let me explain why this is so.

When Parents Post Children’s Pictures

I have two energetic boys and I post their pictures when I find it appropriate. I try to only post when they did something I can be proud of discussing in public, even if it’s funny.

But, I am sure you have come across pictures of parents posting their children fighting or doing things that can be embarrassing later on as they grow up. While posting things online, we should never forget that we are building our children’s brand image through our activities. Plus, we should never forget this –

What gets posted on the Internet, stays there forever. Be careful about what you post online. [tweet this]

When We Have Teens At Home

I have teens in my close family relations who don’t have a Facebook account. They do it so because their parents (like most parents) do not like their children being on Facebook and wasting time watching and contributing to junk out there.

I don’t particularly think that it is the smartest thing to do because it is even more dangerous for their long term branding. Imagine their friends taking their pictures (which could also be inappropriate) and posting them in Facebook and Twitter.

If you are online, at least you have an opportunity to get notified of those postings about you. If you are not, you are letting others create your brand image without your knowledge or consent. I don’t like that idea.

On the other hand, there are teens who are posting all kinds of things, liking all kinds of posts and engaging with all kinds of activities because:

  1. They don’t know the image they are creating of themselves unknowingly, or
  2. They think it’s cool

In both the cases, they are risking their reputation which can come back to haunt them later, depending on the career they choose.

What You Should Know As Parents When You Are Online

Being a parent, I needed to understand that my actions have not only lasting impact on my own brand identity but also on that of my children since I do post their pictures and sometimes about their activities online.

You are not just architecting your own reputation but also that of your children if you are posting about them.

Having said that, in brief, here are a few things you should always keep in mind when posting things online:

  • You may be connected to people through your social network who, directly or indirectly, can influence your children’s career today/tomorrow.
  • You are the first teachers of your children. They learn more from you than anything else in this world. If you are wasting your time on Facebook/Twitter etc. inappropriately , you are not setting a great example.
  • What goes online stays online. That means, be careful what you post online. You don’t want to have regrets later something that you posted today. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Teaching your children that online social media is evil isn’t going to cut it. It’s more or less like sex, if you don’t educate them, they  will learn it anyway but possibly, through the wrong sources.

Handling Social Media To Protect Our Children’s Future

Social media is just another thing my parents didn’t have to worry about when we were growing up. But I can’t take that as an example and ignore my responsibility towards my children’s education on social media. Neither can you.

So, here are 5 things you can do to protect your children’s future from possible damage by being proactive about it while they are still young:

1. Get Educated About Social Networking

I know it’s easy not to allow your child to be on Facebook, Twitter or any social network for that matter. In fact, many parents do that.

But to do that is to take risks which can be avoided by taking responsibility as I explained above. If you are not building your reputation, you are letting somebody else do it for you and that, you might not like when you find out later.

Plus, there are kids who will go ahead and be online behind your back with fake identity and waste their time doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

The best thing you can do for your future and to that of your children is to get educated. Learn how to use social media effectively, what to do and what not to do. Learn about using different account level settings on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other relevant social networking sites.

When you are educated, you also have credibility when you talk to your children, especially teens about it.

2. Do Not Post What You Will Not Say In Public

Why do you want to say something to the whole world which you will not be feeling comfortable telling your neighbor?

Those are the things that put people in trouble. Remember, you can’t escape your actions online. Things that you say online, will stay associated with your name, forever and if it is inappropriate, will come back on you or your children later.

Be very careful about what you are going to say. Think twice before posting personal things online especially about your family, or your children.

3. Spend Time Educating Your Children On Social Media

Just like you make a point to educate your child in math and science, make it a point to include social media in your syllabus for them as they reach the age.

Sit with them, help them set up their profiles, get them aware of online etiquette, as well as the benefits and the dangers of being online. Educate them about privacy settings and how they can (and should) be using these services.

Just like you set rules when handing over the car keys when they start driving, set some ground rules and make sure they follow the rules to enjoy the privileges. It is important that they know that you take social media seriously and you want them to do the same.

These educated habits cultivated early on, will help them today and in the long run as they grow up.

4. Monitor Your Child’s Social Media Activities

This is a no brainer. Just like you have access on your child’s medical records, you should make sure you have access to their social networking profiles.

That doesn’t mean you should spy on your kids all the time or trying to monitor everything they do on a daily basis. But, you do want to be able to intervene and audit their activities when you get a feeling that their social activity level needs some investigation.

Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you realize that your child was involved in something in the real world? If yes, the same applies on Facebook and Google+ too.

5. Do Not Allow Another Profile On The Same Social Network

This is certainly one of those things teens do in an effort to have a secret life online while keeping one profile that is visible to parents.

This is flat out inappropriate behavior and you shouldn’t tolerate it. In fact, if you just report it to Facebook, they will delete both the accounts instantly. Even Facebook doesn’t like it.

If you spend time educating your children or even enrolling them into a social media education program designed for teens, this situation will not arise in most cases. But, if it does, you need to be stringent about the ground rules.

Over To You Now – Share Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on this aspect of social media management for kids? How important do you think it is for parents to take charge in the social media space to help their children?

Have you dealt with any of the situations we discussed here before? Do let me know your thoughts and add your comments to add value to this post.

Just scroll down and share your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you kindly!

Kumar Gauraw

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Kumar Gauraw is a Personal Branding & Social Media strategist helping entrepreneurs and skilled professionals achieve personal and professional success by developing leadership and leveraging the power of the Internet, Blogging and Social Media.

15 Awesome Thoughts So Far, Add Yours Now...

  1. Social media is a twin edged blade which if used properly can have non linear returns and this aspect needs to be taught to the children as on internet one always leave the footprint behind. These days prospective clients are screened first on the basis of their social media presence and the way they use it.

    • That’s right Gaurav! It is a twin edged blade. Wise use highly recommended 🙂

  2. Hey Kumar,

    As you probably know by now, I don’t have children and if I did they would be grown adults by now. I have two nieces and two nephews along with a step-son and they are all grown adults as well.

    Several years ago though when my niece was on MySpace I friended her and was very upset when I saw that she was freely posting their address and where she went to school. Due to her age my first thought were child predators because they were all over MySpace back then. I notified her parents and she didn’t speak to me for three months. I was upset but I knew she would eventually forgive me and as she got older would understand why I did that. I was right, she loved me again shortly after that.

    Overall though my kids are really great and they don’t get into trouble nor post inappropriate things. All I could do though is voice my opinion. I can say that I’m glad I didn’t grow up in this era and have young kids now myself.


    • You did a great thing and this is what we should all do as responsible citizens and parents. If we don’t out our foot down and learn to say NO, who else will? How will out children learn difference between good and bad. What you did was an awesome thing and I admire you for doing it.

      Thank you for sharing your story which adds a great testimonial to this whole concept!


  3. Hi Kumar,

    This is indeed a very important post for families I feel 🙂

    Having teens of my own, I can well understand all the phases they go through, where social networking is concerned and where we as parents have to draw the line. Yes, to stop them from using the social networks is like stopping their natural growth, because everyone is online nowadays.

    However, being parents, you can keep a watch and set limits to the usage on the Internet, something we have made as a rule at home now. Even the kids are used to it and enjoy the limited time they get online as they also know they’ve yet to concentrate on building their career and not indulge too much into all such things. Everything within limits is essential, isn’t it?

    Regarding posting personal pictures on FB or elsewhere, it’s a complete no-no. Because we don’t do it, nor do our kids – unless it’s sharing with the family members only, which is acceptable of course. They are big enough to understand and follow what’s taught to them very well there.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week 🙂

    • Awesome Harleena! We don’t put any pictures which is not something we can publicly share or talk about in person even with an stranger although we do keep a secret location where all family members can share pictures with each other and one another and what not!

      It is a very important decision that we must take as parents and although My boys are still very young, I know they are getting there fast and besides, I have many teenager nephews, nieces and whole lot of kids of all ages in close relationships.

      Everything must have a limit , you at right 🙂

      Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend ahead!


  4. Hi Kumar,

    I do not have children and when I was one the internet wasn’t around, but I can only imagine that for parents nowadays, the internet and social media can be one more area where they need to watch what’s going on. Big time!

    You are so right when you’re saying that when parents post pictures of their kids they are branding them for years to come, so it’s very important that they watch what they’re posting.

    To me I feel that social media can be very invading, so I’m usually very conscious and careful about what I post there anyway, children or not 🙂

    This is an excellent topic, Kumar. Great job you’ve done here!

  5. Hello Kumar,

    This entry is so on point…personally, I use social media strictly for business and branding purposes. For personal uses, it stops at connections and interactions (which are rare are far between).

    It was in that spirit that when my boy was born, I never bothered to expose him to the world via social media; though my wife and I are preparing ourselves for the task of properly educating him when he does come of age.

    It’s really sad how people abuse social networks…to that, I always tell anyone that cares to listen: ‘why should I update something I would be ashamed of 10 years from now?’

    Do have a great day…and thanks for such a wonderfully educating entry.


  6. Wow Kumar this is an excellent article on a subject I know absolutely nothing about since I don’t have children. But I don’t think you don’t need to be a parent to appreciate how important this is, especially your points about providing guidance on the right way to use social media. Of course I have seen some of those inappropriate pictures of kids you spoke about, but what makes me absolutely crazy is when a parent uses social media to shame a child as punishment. This is just wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to understand how a parent could think this would result in any positive results, either for their child’s behavior or their relationship with their child.

    • Yeah! I have seen that happening in some families and in fact, it hurts both in the long run. Children. Get bullied and mistreated because of that parent’s tweet/Facebook update and then their relationship with parents get even worse. This irresponsible behavior of parents must stop as it only does harm.

      Thank you for sharing!


  7. Kumar,

    Yes, children are to be monitored and educated. Even if you put restriction to there online activities is not going to stop them from surfing. They have other methods, even at school to access all they want. There is a huge conflict and the responsibility is with us.

    Myspace is where the issue is and that is out of control. I banned that period yet allow them on other nice practical sites. They are outside doing active things rather than sitting in front of the computer. They do that all day in school and only want a few hours online for interaction with games. They text all day to their friends and that is what we see with our children in Massachusetts.

    Well done with subject matter. You have a great insight for the right time being spring is approaching.

  8. Hello Mr. Kumar,

    This is good food for thought. It is sometimes really embarrassing to see the kinds of things and photo update some parents upload online.
    There is no doubt it will go a long way to hunt those children as the end. Most of them see it as fun but why play with your child’s future when yours is almost over?

    I frequently use Facebook and other social media strictly for business.

  9. Hi Kumar
    Very instructive article. Now a days the popularity and demand of social media among young and old generation are increasing day by day. There is lot of merits and demerits of social media therefore it should we our first priority to aware our childerns about social media .
    Thanks for sharing.
    good job
    Adhesive magnets

  10. Hey Kumar,
    I do not have children yet but I am totally agree with you that we must post only those things which we can easily share in public. Monitoring our children’s activity is really very important as if they do any wrong activity, we can easily show them right path. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  11. Personally I don’t see the dangers in teenagers using social media,if you have brought your children up with love and respect then it would be crazy not to trust them.Having said that tho’ its whether you can trust all the others your precious ray of sunshine will be conversing with.Again this all comes back to your relationship with your child,its not much use waiting until they reach the teenage years to start caring who they are talking too.Values should be drip fed to them from the day they are born,your child should never be considered to young or to old to be told how much you love them,how much you sincerly care.And lets face it at least when they are home behind the computer they aren’t out getting pregnant or into trouble by taking drugs.
    Hold them close but not so close they can’t breathe tell them you love them and they can come to you for any reason,no one will ever love them more than you will.

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