Everywhere I go, I tweet. It’s no secret that I like to use Twitter to keep in touch with my customers and follow other CEO’s. Whenever I’m tweeting, I inevitably get some version of the following:
“Well, it’s a micro-blogging concept where you update people on what you are doing in 140 characters or less.”
(dubious look) “Oh really? What are you saying right now?”
“Well, right now, I’m tweeting that I’m at an interesting lecture on improving communication patterns in Seattle.”
(confused and amazed look)
“Really!? Why would ANYONE want to know that?”
Why, indeed. That is the question on everyone’s minds when they first hear about Twitter but like it or not, transparency is the new way to thrive in business. But, even if you’re not into transparency for your business, if you don’t want to share your eating, work out and personal habits with thousands of followers, there is another important reason you should be on Twitter, Facebook and yes, venture a toe into the skeevy MySpace.
Your kids are on it. And, I guarantee that they’re not being monitored by an authority figure.
I use a location-aware Twitter client called “Twinkle” I like it because I can always see what people are saying wherever I am at. I travel 30-50% of my work time and so it’s nice to see what people in Palm Springs are tweeting about the surrounding areas (road closures, sales, restaurant tips etc…). When I’m in Bellingham, it’s fun to see which areas of the city report what sort of weather reports and restaurant specials.
Lately though, I’ve had some disturbing “location aware tweets” while traveling. This service pulls all the tweets in a 50 mile radius whether I’m “following” (subscribing to someone’s twitter stream feed) or not. And lately, this location-aware feed has been pulling a very precocious 14 year olds ramblings. Rarely, she’s tame (“Headed to soccer! Over and out!”) but mostly, she’s bored and trolling for trouble. A recent tweet had her posting a semi-nude photo of herself and saying “Borrrrred. Chat?”
Though my husband and I have not been blessed with children yet, my spidey-mom senses flare at this dangerous use of Twitter and more importantly, this girl’s obliviousness to the ugliness the world can hold. Where are her parents? You want to know where they are? They’re the ones that say to me “Why would anyone want to be on Twitter?! What a waste of time!” Nose up. Sniff sniff
Guess what? Your daughter is on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace and just like she needs you to set ground rules and boundaries for how she acts at home, she needs you in these new mediums as well. If you won’t get with the program for social networking because you don’t want to take your business into the age of transparency, please, please, please learn how to use these mediums so you can help guide your teens on utilizing them in appropriate, safe and healthy ways that improve their lives, not potentially destroy them.
As for the underage “sexter”, I can only hope that the pedophiles in her area haven’t figured out how to use Twitter. If they have, with no parents to protect and guide her, it won’t end well.
To Joanna: regarding Club Penguin….fortunately the CP people already know the dangers of lurkers looking for children and have protocols set up. The system does not allow anyone to use actual digits in their messages so putting in phone or address numbers is difficult. Some servers are “safe chat” which means you can only chose already determined message bubbles to communicate. Also their system has an algorithm which reads foul language AS WELL as spelled out numbers followed by words, mentions of actual towns or cities can get a user banned.
If a pedophile was looking for a child, CP would be one of the most difficult places to find one.
Hilarious Teresa. Maybe if your kids are turning their noses up at it, perhaps it’s jumped the shark! What ARE they liking for social networking these days?
Teresa R says
Thanks for the reminder that the Web can be a scary place for those who are under-aged and under-supervised!
I love Twitter too – get much of my info that way these days – and funny enough, my kids are the ones who are turning their noses up at Twitter. :}
Body Natural Soap says
My son is only 6 and he is getting quite proficient at the computer. He is not on the internet without me yet and so far is only interested in looking up information on animals or volcano’s so far. I have already been letting him know that mom will snoop into his every move on the internet and that there are some oh so not mice people out there.
Kids can be resourceful though and parents have to be diligent.
I was looking on etsy at the virtual labs and I saw that you were going to be in one of the soap symposiums! I’m very excited and I can’t wait to watch!
I twitter for some of the same reasons you do, Anne-Marie, although you are out there far more than I am. I go nowhere. I am shop-based…
I have a 12 year old and it is a very hard line to walk with protection and privacy. If you remove all the access, they with find it elsewhere and run with it. I think it is really important to discuss the realities of what may lurk out there without scaring them.
For example: Club Penguin is an online game that is a community full of penguins. Each member is a penguin and they can wonder around and chat with other penguins and make friends , yadda yadda. Of course it sounds innocuous, but if you think about it, ANYONE can be a member. It would be the perfect place for a pedophile to get to talk to kids, get to know them and find out where they live….or set up a meeting place…who knows. …
sooooooooo, when I set Nina up as a member, we discussed why it was really important to never tell people her last name or where she lived (even the general area!) or her phone number. We also explained that probably all of the penguins were kids just like her, but it was just to protect her and it is always a good idea to NEVER share her information online or with people she doesn’t know as a general rule.
She does not think people are lurking because I brought it up. She just knows the line she shouldn’t cross.
Did I babble?
Wow…I have a good friend that has a beautiful 13 year old girl, you can I’ll be calling her as soon as I’m done typing. Thank you for the post!
Cee Tindall says
I’m just learning about twitter, not only for business, but due to my teen daughter having social webpage interactions. I feel it’s up to us to ‘stay in the room’ with them so to speak when they are ‘socializing’!
Kat, I thought about posting something @ the young impressionable gal but didn’t think it was my place – and could see it turning into a huge overreaching brouhahaha. And while I know her parents probably don’t read this blog, maybe other parents do and it might save some trouble in the future.
Great post. That is true, and very important information.
ok, forgive me
just one more comment
i guess the Good thing
about those times we run
across bored trolling teens could
be, to message them and
or would that be too
like unasked for advice
construed to be criticism….?
the only drag is
when you don’t feel very cool
like when you are super tired
or stressed out or just plain
not fun to be with
and you have to try to
think up cool things to say
so the young people you network with don’t think you’re a big
old geek. does anyone else ever
feel like that?
so very very true.
thanks for the candid, acid,
yes, and amen!
kids are so techno savvy it scares
i just spend 30 minutes on Facebook just to improve my social networking skills. i was amazed at how many “friends” i have out there!
I just had a heartattack. LOL. Luckily I think I have a few years before I’m really in trouble (my oldest just turned 8) but I’ll be downloading Twinkle. Unfortunately, she knows how to use my iPhone as well as I do. 🙂
Hippie's Creations says
This is why I follow my kids on the computer :o) I am on every social network site that they are on, for one business awareness but for two, I can see what my kids are up to :o) My kids also have limit : 1 hour per computer/video game console just for the reason you have brought up!