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.