Social Media: "Stealer of Thunder"
The other day, something prompted me to remember a story about a little kid on the first day of school. The young student was beyond excited to see their teacher and tell them all about their summer. Much to the child’s disappointment, however, the teacher already knew their highlight reel because of the parent’s frequent status updates on social media.
The thought of this story sprang up while touring a local preschool when our guide made the statement, “You can join a Facebook Group that shows pictures and shares what your child does here each day.”
It was at that moment I felt my mind begin to wander.
Not only did it set in that my husband and I would soon face new challenges in keeping the youngest in our family’s online privacy intact and digital footprints small, but I realized social media steals children’s thunder … and we, adults are often at fault.
I’ve been haunted by this realization ever since.
Now, forgive me as I overthink things for a moment. One of my majors in college was Communication Studies and the power we all hold in how we exchange information — both online and off — continues to fascinate and, let’s be honest, “terrify” this Trepid Tech Mom:
The joy of sharing
When’s the last time you were really pumped to share something?
From breaking news and special surprises to how the day went and even handing over a specially-picked-out present or gift, many things in life cause our stomachs to flutter with excitement. If that enthusiasm is squelched because someone else spilled the beans, it stings (and in cases like an accidental baby announcement, it can also cause “Tears all ’round”).
Today, the youngest generation is experiencing the side effects of others sharing their life online as they receive greetings of, “Hey, I saw you [fill in the blank] — that looked so cool!” If not careful, our ability to know what children do, whether at daycare, preschool, or elsewhere, may get in the way of us sincerely connecting with them and asking, “Tell me all about your day!”
As warned above, perhaps this is overthinking things. That said, I’m a true believer that if we’ve already seen the day’s highlights, the natural urge is to greet children with, “I saw you [ex. froze fruit and tried to think of ways to make the ice melt] — how fun!” Though seemingly small, my gut says, with no apparent question in that “welcome home,” it leaves little invitation to share much else as kids may assume parents already know the other details.
The open-ended question
Here’s a challenge I’ve given myself, and you’re welcome to join me. Let’s greet kiddos — and even adults — with an open-ended question. You know, inquiries that require more than a word or two to answer, like:
Tell me all about your [fill in the blank].
What was your favorite part about [fill in the blank] and why?
Was there anything you didn’t get to do this [fill in the blank]?
What happened when you [fill in the blank]?
If the above questions lead nowhere, Cool Mom Picks shares 30+ fantastic open-ended questions to ask your kids, so you don’t get a yes or no answer. Motherly also has some conversation starters in, 30 questions to ask your kid instead of “How was your day?” If all else fails, perhaps we can then dig into the social media vault and offer a few prompts based on what was posted … and try the whole open-ended question thing again tomorrow ;)
Good luck to us all in our quest for quality communication and attempts to make sure we don’t let social media steal our thunder and tell the stories for us (or anyone else for that matter)!
Side note: Upon asking the preschool, I was told families can choose not to have their child featured in these online Facebook Groups, which was a relief. Also somewhat satisfying was that it sounds like we wouldn’t be the first, as many households opt out.