The Right Age For Social Media

Social-Media-2-300pxRecently, I saw my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephews to celebrate my nephews’ birthdays. While there, we played around with a fun new app called MSQRD (as in "masquerade") that changes your face to look like someone – or something – else’s.

After taking a few photos of my nephew with it, he asked me to email him the photos. It turns out that both of my nephews have Gmail accounts. Although they primarily use these for school, it got me to thinking. NHL and JSL (who are around the same age as their cousins) didn’t have email addresses. I began to wonder whether it was time to introduce them to email? If so, then would the introduction to social media be far behind?

I’ve long compared the Internet to a city. There are some great places to visit, great sights to see, and a lot to learn. Unfortunately, there is also a lot that is inappropriate for children (at best) and harmful to children (at worst).

Recently, Microsoft released a chat bot named Tay onto Twitter. It would interact with people online and learn from them. A mere twenty four hours after it was released, though, the chat bot turned racist. It started making racist comments about Hitler and President Obama. Needless to say, Microsoft took it offline.

The chat bot was essentially the equivalent of a small child and it was released onto the electronic equivalent of a seedy bar. Was anyone surprised that it learned some less than appropriate phrases?

Then there’s the bullying factor to consider. When I was young, I was tormented by bullies and they didn’t have access to social media. Social media can be a positive experience . Unfortunately, the same power that lets people from far away connect based on similar interests, also gives bullies a global platform from which to terrorize.

All of this means that, while NHL might be a year away from qualifying to sign up for social networks, we’re not likely to allow him to sign up soon. Even when we do, there will be limits and supervision at first. We’ll be required to have the password to his social networks so we can monitor the conversations. If anything raises red flags with us, we can talk to him about it and help him decide the best course of action.

How are you handling your children and social media?


NOTE: The image above is "Social Media 2" by GDJ and is available from

The Game Data Facebook Conundrum

Facebook_installBack in March, I wrote about moving from my old smartphone to a new one.  Well, thanks to B getting a new phone from Verizon Wireless, I’ve had to do it again. This time, however, things didn’t go as smoothly as the first time.

For the first move, games tended to fall into one of three categories. The first was games whose data I couldn’t move over but whose data I really didn’t care about. For example, I enjoy playing a backgammon game and the app keeps track of the games won and lost. I didn’t really mind having that counter reset.  The second category was games whose data I was able to move either by signing into an online account if by contacting the developer. The third category was games whose data I couldn’t move but which I realized I hadn’t played in a long time.

This time around, there was a fourth category as well. These were games that I cared about and could be moved – but only by logging into your Facebook account.

Problem: I didn’t have a Facebook account. Though I’m on social media, I’ve steadfastly refused to open a Facebook account. I refused when I saw that a lot of people that i knew were on Facebook. I refused when groups I would like to be a part of were only accessible as Facebook groups. I refused when my wife kept telling me it was a great way to keep in touch with family and friends.

Part of my refusal was due to time constraints. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on social media in general. I’d rather focus on one or two social media platforms than to spread myself across too many and not be able to keep up with any. In addition, Facebook has had a lot of piracy and usability issues. I didn’t want to subject myself to that.

Still, I *needed* to get those games transferred. What was I to do?

In the end, I gave in and opened a Facebook account to transfer my games over. Don’t expect my to Like your Facebook posts or add you as a friend, though. My profile remains almost completely bare – I didn’t even bother to add a profile image. The only purpose for this account was to assist me in moving my game data. Now that this is done, the account is only going to be used for saving game data.

What lengths have you needed to go to to keep your game progress?

Rhymes-With-Fox In Socks

The fight against cancer is very important to me. Twenty-three years ago, my grandfather died after a battle with prostate cancer.  More recently, Superman Sam – a child whom I never met in person but who we got to know and love thanks to social media – lost his battle with leukemia.  Anything that helps the fight against cancer is fine in my book.

Recently, a campaign was launched to get guys to post photos of themselves.  These were not the usual selfies, though.  These pictures showed the men with nothing but a sock covering their private parts.

You’ll excuse me if I don’t see how this helps.

When I first heard of it, I didn’t hear "new testicular cancer awareness campaign."  I didn’t even hear that this was related to cancer at all. All that I heard was that some people were stuffing their "selves" into socks, taking photos of themselves, and posting the photos online. It seemed like just some weird perverted form of the selfie phenomenon. Eventually, I heard that this was meant to help fight cancer.  It took TheDaddyYoDude’s post to let me know that this was specifically targeting testicular cancer.

Like I said, I’m all for fighting cancer, but outrageous and shocking awareness campaigns are often counterproductive.  First of all, the campaign actions can overshadow the cause.  In this case, for every person who learns about testicular cancer thanks to this "socks" campaign, too many more will just see nearly-naked men wearing socks over their members.

The second problem is that these kinds of campaigns increasingly raise the bar for what is needed to shock people into awareness.  Once people are no longer shocked by socks, what’s next?  People posting close-up photos mid-colonoscopy?  Graphic photos of couples mid-coitis to raise awareness against STDs?

Were this a whimsical campaign designed to raise awareness in a humorous manner, instead of a shocking one, I might just participate.  Instead, this is the closest that I’ll go:


What do you think about this "socks" campaign?  Will it actually help in the fight against testicular cancer or is it all shock and no value?

What Happens When Frozen And Exhaustion Meet On Twitter

Take one couple who are active on social media.  Mix in a generous helping of exhaustion.  Stir in a love for Disney in general, and for the songs from the movie Frozen in particular.  Blend and bake in Twitter.  What do you get?  A hilarious exchange that B & I had a few nights back.  At least it seemed hilarious at the time.  A well-rested mind might not find it funny which only goes to prove that well rested minds know less about humor than Olaf knows about summer!

The Purpose of Social Media

social_media_purposeI’ll admit it: Sometimes I wonder why I spend time on social media.  All too often, it feels like a treadmill of giveaway entries, product tweets, and photos of locations that – while beautiful – I’ll likely not see in person anytime soon.  Often, it can feel like time spent on my "social media life" can take away from time spent in my real life.  Furthermore, speaking on social media can often feel like you are trying to whisper in the middle of a hurricane.  Something that happened on Thursday, however, reminded me of the real purpose behind social media.

I was getting ready to make dinner, when I saw this series of tweets from SelfishMom.  (Screen captures are linked to the actual tweets.)


We’ve known Amy for years.  We’ve seen her at various Disney World events as well as at BlogHer.  In addition, B spoke with her quite a lot at SheStreams one year.  Beyond the face-to-face meetings, though, we all tweet to each other quite a bit.  B and her send messages to each other via Facebook as well.

So when I saw that Amy was having blog problems I asked if I could help.  After all, I considered Amy a friend and couldn’t leave her in a fetal position surrounded by empty potato chip bags and Hershey bar wrappers!  I was able to talk her through some debugging steps to solve the issue.  In the end, it wasn’t a hacker and we were able to recover all of her posts.  How we did it will be a second blog post.  Look for that on Wednesday.

Back to the question of "why social media", though.  At one point, Amy asked me how much I charged per hour.  She mentioned that she wouldn’t want someone to expect her to write for free.  She was right.  I do freelance work and, when I do it, I expect to be paid.  However, this was different.  This was a friend in immediate need.  Helping a friend recover their blog is a lot different than, say, redesigning a website (even if the site I’m redesigning is a friend’s).

In the end, that’s what social media is all about: Forming friendships with people whom you would never have met were it not for the Internet.  Amy lives in the same state as we do, but the chances of us running into each other (much less forming a friendship) sans Internet/social media would be slim.  Add in the other people we’ve met online who hail from across the coast or even different countries and it’s easy to see the real power of social media:  Helping people befriend people online when you would never have even known about them otherwise.

Though I don’t get to see my social media friends in real life as often as I’d like (and some I haven’t met in person yet but really want to), I enjoy spending time chatting with my online friends.  I like seeing what they are up to, sharing their highs, comforting them if I can during their lows, reaching out if I need help, and helping in turn when my friends need it.  Social media is about the people you meet.

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