Avid Facebook-ing Turns Kids Into Little Publicists

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I’m not one for the reasoning that children should be exempt from social media completely. However, writer Alexandra Robbins makes an excellent observation when commenting on the online social lives of today’s teens and tweens.

Robbins told The New York Times:

Facebook is now the online cafeteria…It’s this public space, largely unsupervised, and it mirrors the cafeteria dynamic where you walk in and have to find a place to belong. At school, you have to pick a table. Well, on Facebook you not only have to pick a table, you have to pick who’s at your table and who’s not. And then kids feel they have to be publicists for themselves, maintaining their photos and status. It’s exhausting.

The “kids on social media” critique usually turns to predictable avenues of online predators, but I find this metaphor by Robbins pretty sharp.  Aside from the torment of bullys, parents should also consider how developing an online persona could possibly effect their children’s development. Kids crafting online self-portraits raises many questions of vanity and accomplishment that perhaps you would like to spare them of until they get a little older. Should a nine-year-old really be cycling through photos of themselves and untagging the ones in which they “don’t look good”? If they excelled in school, is it not enough that recognition comes from within their own home? Did it never really happen if there was not a confirming Facebook status?

Self-promotion has become one of the default uses of social media, but considering children may be learning this skill at such precious ages is a bit alarming.