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Every month we talk about Halloween and the the hashtag, #teacochester, and that’s about it.
Yes, we love Halloween, we love Halloween costumes, but we love the kids even more.
There are definitely far more interesting things to talk about than all the worst costumes and horrifying snark. Halloween is a cute time when the kids run around and parents let their guard down. And we bet that is because the kids show up in costume?
Nowadays, though, we try to protect the kids from too much attention. Social media and the internet are full of pictures of Halloween costumes and silly things your kid do. And usually there is something wrong with them. Something they haven’t learned or something they’ve gotten messed up because the screen saver was askew.
On the surface this seems pretty innocuous. It is so casual, it doesn’t seem like a real thing to protect the children from. But every time you post a picture of a child on Instagram, you are putting them in a powerful position, like you are putting them on that talk show with the lights on.
They can be like the kids on the tv show. They can say things to their audience that they might not mean or say things that may be inappropriate. But at least on a live show they won’t see their own reaction until the next day or longer.
That is the power of social media.
So imagine a kid. Imagine a child in a position to be even more powerful and influential than the actual talk show host. They could act in ways that could blow up their families, careers, and society as a whole. But we can’t really get involved and say that kid is too young to be on tv or to post pictures of it on a public forum. The internet is only public for a certain age.
And the internet is different.
It is a whole world that is completely transparent. What happens, really is what happens. Nobody can pretend that that is not happening. We can say this is only happening on Instagram, but now we can also say on a publicly stated platform that this is just a kid and the normal thing for kids to do on social media is post pictures of their Halloween costumes.
But actually, what about the thing on the internet that is non-public? I mean, back when I was in college, I would have never seen that. Then the world became a whole world for everyone. There was nothing that people could hide.
It is kind of a fairytale to think of the internet as a place that if you are clean you will get away with a lot and if you are filthy you will get away with less. I know some of you might not even believe it, but there is a reality behind that fairytale. People of all ages have risked their careers and families over how they are perceived on Instagram. But there is also something to be said for that perception.
We don’t have to use public platforms like Instagram for this. We can choose not to use them at all. This is the age where adolescents become aware of them. Students need to think about what they post and who is on the other end of that. This is also the age where your kids have access to such a powerful medium. That is a scary thing to think about.
There are a lot of productive uses of Instagram. I use it for business, for my own feed, and for my kids. They may join me, but they don’t necessarily have to follow me. Remember that dark place of teenage rebellion and posting pictures of yourself in unflattering poses and names of things on things. It is a way to show off a slightly unhealthy way of social life, or a trick to get attention.
Kids today (many, not all) are able to see past the look at the advertising, the pictures of fun, the filters and the look at who else is on Instagram. If we would just pay attention, the many, many, many people who may want to abuse a child’s anonymity online can also be found in real life. That is a powerful thing.