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Episode 030 – Should I put my kids on social media? Why we do it, risks, pressures, questions to help parents and more
Show Notes – Episode 030 – Should I put my kids on social media? Why we do it, risks, pressures, questions to help parents and more
It seems like everyone is sharing everything on social media. That moment in time captured. To share with the world. But what is OK to share and what is not OK to share? Is it ok to share your dinner? Is it ok to share your opinion on the latest political debate? Is it ok to share photographs and videos of your children? Dr Ro & Harms talk about this last question in depth on this episode. With the purpose of providing parents and parents to be, the thought process to go through before posting a picture of your children on your favourite social media app. With social media becoming the norm and the debate on privacy hotter than ever, come and listen to an important part of that jigsaw – children and social media – should you put them on there?
What Dr Ro & Harms talk about in this episode:
Defining what ‘putting your kids on social media’ means
How do social media companies work?
What pressures has Dr Ro has from his kids to get them on social media?
What to do if other people want to post your kids on social media – friends, relatives, siblings etc
What sort of relationship has Harminder had with social media?
A sequence of questions to help you reflect on making the right decision for you and your family
When is it OK to put your kids on social media?
Some action points you can do immediately to help you take more control
Important questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about putting your children on social media:
Why would we want to put our kinds on social media?
Is it for YOUR own needs? If so what NEEDS?
Is it to get a real authentic message out there?
Is it to build a brand around your kids?
What impact will this have on your experiences with your kids – if you always have the camera on them?
Do you feel present with them?
Do you feel they are enjoying the experience?
If you are going to do it – what is the balance?
Time spent doing it?
On a personal level, what are you looking to achieve from this?
The feel-good kick, the endorphins kick, validation, a thumbs up, a follower count, a brand, a business, money, fame, connectivity
In addition here are some action points based on a few typical scenarios:
Scenario 1 – Connecting and sharing with family, live filming to a private family or friends group
This is an online activity but in a protected space
How to do this?
Set up a private group on whatever platform you use. And set it to secret. Post there only.
Alternatively, a Whatsapp group also does the trick.
Scenario 2 – Creativity and storytelling – make the movie and do a family screening (as an example)
This interestingly enough is an offline activity
So does not require a social media platform
But still produces that level of pursing a creative passion where the feedback can be controlled
Scenario 3 – Using social media platforms and posting your children, but with more control.
Finally – control, these platforms give you way more control than you think, it’s just hidden. You can manage all of the following and more:
Who sees your posts
What you see
Who you see
Finally, let’s take a birds-eye view of this whole discussion and ask the deepest, more fundamental questions.
Take a journey into the future and you are looking back.
How do you want it to look?
Was this how you wanted your kids to remember this period?
What memories did you want to leave?
Reflect on the questions from this podcast above
Dr Ro & Harminder appreciate this is not a black or white answer. There is no right or wrong. So use these questions as a reflection point. Ultimately your decision is yours, but hopefully, this episode can help you be confident in your decision.
Harminder mentioned an app for your web browser that helps you block your newsfeed, check that out here (free app – no affiliate) >>
For a full read of the podcast, here is a full transcript of everything Dr Ro and Harms covered in this episode of the Growth Tribes Podcast.
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Harms: Hello, Harms here and welcome to another episode of the Growth Tribes podcast.
Today we want to discuss a topic that maybe goes under the radar, or it does not get enough reflection and we will explore why that is through the episode.
It is possibly because it appears to be normal practice now or everyone is doing it and more than anything we want to ask questions without judgement that any parents listening may want to reflect on.
The subject is, should I put my kids on social media and share their lives, activities in such a public space?
Interestingly enough, I started to have this conversation with Ro and he mentioned it to me first on a socially distant bike ride and then I shared with him I was having the same conversation with my wife Geena.
We were having that conversation about should I put my kids in social media before our baby arrives. Why we are thinking about that so early is because the question applies to children i.e. new-borns, toddlers.
Children aged eight, nine, 10 early teens and so on, so Ro over to you, and I don’t know if you recall that conversation when you raised it to me and I was like yes, we’re having the exact same conversation literally two days ago.
Dr Ro: Yeah, I do distinctly remember it and I think it’s been one that’s bubbling under the surface. Firstly hi everybody, welcome to the podcast again, thank you for joining us and being part of this escalating topic as they come in.
This is a provocative one.
I just want to put a big red sign above this or a green side, purple sign whatever to say, this will without doubt be provocative and I suspect that we may say things today not that it’s the intention, but because we’re going to be neutral and ask questions.
Although I’ll be biased in my answers, my personal view doesn’t mean to say what I believe or what Harminder believes has to be your belief.
We also feel that as two people that are conscious about where the world is going we want to tackle the subject from how we see it, so it is provocative.
If you’re listening to this and you’re a parent or just become a parent and some things that we say you might go, I’m doing that it’s not meant to be a judgement.
What I would say, use it as an opportunity to observe, reflect, ask questions if what we’re saying does make sense, or it doesn’t apply, I’m going to do it this way anyway. I just want to be clear that we are going to touch on some subjects because it’s family because it’s children, it can be sensitive particularly in the current world where so many people put their kids all over social media.
I do remember the conversation and I wasn’t aware of the depth of your conversation. You’re totally right, I think it has gone under the radar.
I think maybe people aren’t considering the impact of it, and that’s not to say there is a big impact, but I think when we share our view, it may at least get people thinking slightly differently.
I know there’s a lot of other parents certainly in the community I’m in and you’ve been in and out my community now for a few months.
They are very much aware of this in the way they are and act with the kids and what they do with the information and how they film their kids.
Harms: Absolutely Ro and I think one of the things when social media first arrived on the scene, maybe these conversations were taking place then, but they were, you know, in terms of a predictive conversation, this may happen.
But we’re starting to see things actually play out in the social media world now, that being said, we haven’t gone through a full generational cycle.
As an example, I didn’t have social media when I was growing up, you didn’t have social media when you were growing up.
It’s our children now who are experiencing it very early. What we won’t see or we can again predict possibly, but we’re starting to see signs of some of the challenges our children may be facing.
But we’re not going to know this for true fact until somebody goes through an entire generation on social media.
Dr Ro: That is a very good point and I mean whilst we are into the space I can talk from my observation as a 54, 55-year-old looking.
I’m going to draw an analogy where we might get close to it back when I grow up.
This would be child movie stars, child celebrities who, as I followed them, I’m thinking of the likes of the famous boy bands. For example, young movie stars that became epically huge, even today people that we know.
I’m mindful of us naming people here, but people can go and look up this.
The point I want to make is that I have actually witnessed their exposure early on in the media, which would have been equivalent to our social media.
We’re talking about cameras, photography, video footage, media footage, cameras following them around.
If you’ve recently been watching some of the stuff on Michael Jordan and the recent release of videos, you see how much exposure he got to the camera in those days, and to the point where he got fed up with it and walked away from a lot of that as well.
But also I’ve seen very famous young people who went off the rail ending up drinking or just because of that exposure it changed their makeup and I get to deal with people a lot with the personal development world who when I dig deeper.
I found that they’ve had some form of exposure like this in their youth.
Which has kind of reversed, they have almost gone opposite of turning to hermits because they had so much exposure early.
I don’t want to pre-empt what we’re going to say, because that does to some extent lean on the way I think as well.
Harms: You’ve experienced in the classic conventional way media, movies, newspapers, that classic example where somebody would have been the highlight of the town.
There was a famous person in the town. They would also experience a level of fame that level of awareness on everything they were doing, that’s how it played out there.
Now that’s very much in the way, is playing out in social media.
Let’s define what we mean when we say putting our kids on social media, what does that mean to you?
Dr Ro: By no means this is us saying our view on it, I’m layering lots of caveats in here before we just go for it. Consider things like this, posts of videos of your kids doing lots of different activities.
When I grew up, we might make a home movie we watched at home.
Now I’m seeing those same home movies being exposed to thousands of people so that’s an example. Another might be creating online videos on YouTube, video series. I watch some of these songs and it’s like the kids have been directed to do it.
It’s a structured approach, those that just constantly post about their kids across social media and there are those that have made almost a formulaic approach to it.
That would be exhausting.
Harms: Talking about the formulaic approach is also linked with one in a simple level sharing content around their lives, so what is my child up to?
Let me share content around their lives. But then another version of that is again directing or formulating that content.
It’s almost like writing a script and asking your child to play out in the script in order to get some exposure and put themselves out there in social media.
But what are the things that happen with that when it comes to what we mean by putting your kids in social media is very simply, exposing them to potentially thousands and thousands and if not hundreds of thousands of strangers.
We know that because I’ve got a digital marketing company, Ro you as an adult, as a business owner have a profile on social media.
We have a sort of profile via the Growth Tribes podcast and we’ve got thousands of downloads, but unless we know those people personally.
Some of them are going to be strangers until we start to have that connection over time, but what we’re doing is potentially really simply put, we’re just exposing our kids to thousands of strangers.
I guess that’s a few different elements on what we mean by putting our kids on social media in terms of how it plays out.
But I want to add another important note which I know you’re aware of but for our listeners and quite commonly when we speak to people about this subject they just don’t get it or is such a new concept to them and it’s like the Penny has just dropped.
That Penny is what is a social media company and how do they work?
A lot of us consumers or users of social media think the platform is free.
If the platform is free and we’re not paying for that service how do they make money?
How they make money would potentially drive how they do business, how they make the decisions. So the way social media companies make their money is through advertising revenue.
If you look at that scenario there and we asked the powerful question which is so who is the customer? Who is Facebook, Instagram, YouTube’s actual customer?
If we look at it in depth and ask that question the customer is obviously the person paying them money in this case it’s businesses that spend advertising revenue to market to people who are using the platform for free, i.e. us, everybody listening to this podcast will to some extent be using social media.
When you allow your kids to use social media or potentially put them on there, one of the things they will be exposed to, naturally, is a ream of advertising, which is hyper- focused.
I thought that may be useful for the listeners at home to be aware of.
Dr Ro: It’s a question that is provocative in so many ways is how and where is that material being used.
Although you might think I’ve just put it on my Facebook page. You’ve no idea where that video of your children is being sent to, whose phone it ends up on.
If I do the complete opposite to that there are a lot of celebrities because of their experience of the celebrity world and the exposure that they’ve experienced they literally lock off the kids from it. they completely remove the kids from the environment at all.
They go out and might be seen as celebrities themselves but they don’t want the media, the public to see their children, to have photographs of the children and to give their children exposure to the environment.
When I see things happening, I’ll ask a contrarian question.
Why is it these people already very famous are choosing not to do that?
Maybe there are things that they’re aware of that, the average person isn’t aware of and only when their kids get that exposure at some point in the future they think, gosh, I’ve done this. It is provocative in so many ways.
I’m not saying that every single child that gets exposed to lots of views and lots of comments online is going to have some kind of unconscious behavioural shift or become dysfunctional.
What I am saying is that there is without a doubt if a child and adult any human being gets exposure to a lot of comments, a lot of observation from other people, their belief systems and values get moulded by what other people say about them and that’s a conversation I think we should bring into this one today as we go forward.
Harms: That is fascinating.
I think you’ve hit on a whole bunch of important points there and what’s interesting is celebrities that you mentioned, don’t even put themselves on social media. If they do they do it for the purpose of building a business and I think many people don’t understand that.
Many celebrities who we admire in Hollywood or movies, et cetera really only put themselves in social media for a business perspective, but rarely will you see them present their personal life.
I love the idea of thinking, if social media is not good enough for the people we admire, why do we chase it and use it ourselves and then subject our kids to it as well.
I’ve phrased that question again slightly biased but the idea was to provoke the thought.
Ro now narrowing back on the core question which is do we put our kids on social media, should we, as a parent, you are a parent, I am a parent to be.
Do you currently put your kids on social media or have you at any point?
Dr Ro: Here is the $64 million question and it has been a topic in our house for a long time and particularly more recently, with having a five-year-old and 11-year-old as I’m recording this.
The answer to that is on a personal level on my own private Facebook page when my eldest was born we put a few photographs up.
I can even remember one time walking up to a big hill near where our house was and showing a photograph with the sun setting and it was literally that to a small group of people that were on my personal page, but even back then, and this is going back quite a few years now.
I remember thinking, why am I doing this?
I’m sharing with you some provocative questions we have brought into our household.
Why do I Dr Ro, a 50-year-old man feel a need to take a photograph of my children and put them in front of a whole bunch of other people?
That was different back in the day Harms before I started working with you and we had a whole profiler around the Dr Ro brand.
What I’m talking about here is my own personal Facebook page and initially the Facebook page was a small number of people. 11 years ago you’d have been about 20 Harms so for me back then we were like Facebook is for a few friends.
That’s how we kind of approached it, but then the whole hook of Facebook and social media took off, and suddenly there was this chase for a need to have lots of friends.
That’s when I started to think and I had people even text me saying you haven’t accepted me onto your Facebook page.
I started to think why do I even need to accept people on my Facebook?
I don’t know that I want to talk about openly to lots and lots of people what I am doing with my kids, also I don’t know where the photographs are being used.
What if my child’s photographs are being used in a magazine or somebody who is not inappropriate looking at it, so we very quickly chose not to do it on a personal level.
On the Dr Ro page, you will occasionally see a video and is very occasionally of me out with my kids. I did one where we were collecting wool from the sheep. That wasn’t driven by me, that was driven by my five year old seeing me doing stuff with the camera and she said, daddy can I tell them what I’m doing with the wool?
Can we share with them how we collect the wool and what we do with it. We did a three-minute video where she literally just wanted to say we’re collecting wool in the field here, et cetera.
Even that when I did that video there’s a little part of me that was saying should I do this or not? Where are my boundaries?
I started asking myself questions about why I would want to do it, but she genuinely wanted to do it. My eldest daughter came along and wanted to do the same thing.
The answer to your question, is actually very, very rarely.
The reason it has been a discussion for a long time Harms is, I and you know this because you’ve got to know me on a private level.
I’m quite a private person albeit I’m in the public space. My fiancé is incredibly private, as is your lovely wife Geena and I felt why should I bring my world into the family, bearing in mind I’ve got a beautiful partner who is quite private and my kids don’t have to be exposed to the world the same way I am.
Why would I want to do that anyway?
The only reason I do it is to serve my own ego, or to say show off my kids that this is just my perspective, and I might be challenging other people listening to this.
But I really had to dig deep and go back to the questions I asked my clients when I tried and help them overcome a block.
Why did you feel you needed to do this?
Because ultimately it’s a behaviour I’m choosing as an adult for my kids who aren’t old enough to make a choice.
Harms: That makes total sense and if you’re thinking what is that process, what kind of questions do we ask ourselves as parents because I appreciate social media almost just became the norm.
How does it affect people?
None of this is discussed and you can find articles, et cetera but Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube all these companies, LinkedIn they’re so powerful in the sense that they have created a norm.
Whereas if you’re not on Facebook, or you a strange person, are you hireable?
Dr Ro: It’s fomo.
In that period early when you were probably in your 20s and I was becoming a parent people were like, put your kids in social media.
It became oh shit, maybe I should and it was only by asking the question why do I need to? It became almost like a cult.
There was a wave of parents going let’s put our kids on social media.
Back in the day it was like, I’ll go upstairs and get the photo album or when I come to your house let’s bring photo albums and we will sit round a fireplace or coffee and do it together.
It was very intimate and that changed the minute you could post online, everything changed.
Harms: The big difference there was one was sharing these photos with a select group of people you have allowed into your home.
Now it’s that photo just like you’ve said a few times that could end up anywhere and if anybody’s listening to this, you know this is a truth because every single WhatsApp group I’m in, or Facebook group I’m in.
There is a repost, or somebody is forwarding on a video which has a different topic or subject or title, and these videos are of real people out there in the world.
The question is, what if that video was of your child and that was living on so many people’s phones, whether it’s in the UK in Europe or America and it spreads like wildfire.
How does that impact your children?
Dr Ro: I was with a group a year ago now and one of them was showing a photograph and it was on a WhatsApp group.
It was a picture of a ladies child and the child’s head was quite large relative to its body for its age and they all laughed. I was thinking if that were my child I would be pissed off and these were strangers that didn’t even know this baby, that’s where we’ve got to.
That’s the challenge that we all face is that what was once a photograph we showed to a family member maybe the comment comes up, we might as parents say I’m worried about his head it seems a bit big.
Then your aunt says don’t worry, Johnny was just the same his body will catch up. Now that same photograph could be gone out to 50 people who are strangers laughing at your kid and you might think who cares, and this goes back to a child’s reaction to how they are perceived and how they grow up because of a set of beliefs that are put upon them by other adults.
You haven’t got kids yet and I know the baby is on the way, because of your business with business online and you’re heavily involved with social media.
When you see these different channels and videos where not just the random ones, but you see kids being posted a lot and the parents are creating these channels around them.
What do you see technically because a lot of people just see the end product.
What are you thinking about in terms of the process they must have had to get to create that many consistent videos of their kids.
Harms: That’s a really good question Ro.
One is the reason I wanted to have this conversation with you and explore this thought process is when we had that bike ride I was sharing with you.
We have a baby on the way and one of the questions we asked ourselves was we had gone through the same thought process that you just described to the listeners within your household.
For us, the answer was do we want to put our children on social media? No.
For many of the reasons that you explained, but now there was another question that we had, which came up which was are we okay with our brothers and sisters very close family members who are avid social media users putting our kids on social media via their YouTube channels.
This was actually what formed a greater part of that conversation which is, what do we tell somebody else who’s still very close to us about putting out kids on social media.
They would do it with their own nieces and nephews, et cetera and it’s just the norm. They don’t think about it.
They haven’t considered it in the way that we’re talking about it now, but maybe if they listen to this podcast, they will think, why are we putting somebody else’s kids on social media?
Again we had to make a decision as parents to say, okay, we’re going to have two set guidelines or social media guidelines around what can be shared in their public spaces because just for the reasons you said.
Just because I never posted my child’s photo, somebody else may do and they may be close to me and it’s all harmless and innocent, but when it ends up in a way that our child looks in other 15, 20 years and they are a laughing stock in the eyes of a stranger, then, do we want walk that road?
The answer was no.
Dr Ro: Don’t make the assumption that we’re saying that someone’s going to laugh at your child, it’s more the philosophy.
Without a doubt all the work we’ve done with adults, adults make up beliefs and values that shape the way they see the world, perceive, or experience the world at a young age.
If that child is getting exposed to a lot of people, and there are comments being made about the child that’s where you’ve got issues.
I just recently watched an amazing film about Judy Garland with Renee Zellweger. It gave a fascinating insight. I knew the story already.
Fascinating insight into how her adult life, where she ended up on barbiturates and drugs was a lot influenced by the way she was perceived and treated as a child because she had so much exposure.
It was the tiniest things about what she could and couldn’t eat, how she was commented upon whether she was pretty or not.
Throwaway comments that we as adults perceived to be harmless to a child can crush their beliefs about who they are.
Although you might think that we are being sensitive to this, I think the other phrase you might say is we’re being very mindful, thoughtful, or conscious is another word.
It’s just pausing before we make these decisions.
Harms: I think what Ro means for the listeners at home is when you come to the live event, you’ll see people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s who are doing things now in their current life, which is a decision or path they’re on solely because of something that happened to them as a child and it’s fascinating.
Remember those comments could be negative and it also could be positive, but we can’t control that. Looping back to the answer.
That’s why we thought it would be useful to have a discussion today and even empower the listeners to say if you’ve got brothers and sisters, or you’ve got people around you who are really close to you that it’s okay to say to them right now we’re not comfortable with putting our children on social media.
This is why, hopefully you’ll respect that decision.
Dr Ro: On the technical front when you watch a series of videos what technically is going on to create that?
Because I just want those people watching who have got an idea to do this.
What’s involved? It’s not like they film it and that’s it.
It doesn’t work that way.
Harms: And if you want to know the technical process there are two things to consider.
One is it becomes a full-time job and if you want evidence of that, there are some fantastic people who create these documenting style movies, and one that comes to mind is Casey Neistat. He is known on YouTube to blog on a daily basis. Weekly basis.
He is currently doing a circuit of podcast interviews where he talks about the fact that he was producing a daily video, this video was only five to seven minutes long.
He said he was literally close to losing his wife and kids because of that intense process he put himself under about documenting and videoing his life.
Now that’s him in full control of his own video camera in its own production. Imagine what that’s like and you translate that to trying to direct children to tell a story about what’s happening then take that video footage ensuring the battery on the camera is always charged and the memory card has enough space in it.
You take that video you then produce it because guess what, the video is not going to be good enough of raw, it has to be edited, it has to be ready for your audience, your viewers.
The editing process can take hours, then you will decide what parts you keep in, what parts actually fulfill the story and the script that you had in your mind, never mind what the kids had in their mind.
But what you have in your mind then you have to produce that, once you produce that you’ve got to render it.
Rendering is a simple term to take it from an edited raw footage, processing, and then allow the software to turn it into a video you can now upload.
That video has to be uploaded to YouTube or Facebook or whatever. Depending on the quality that can take an hour to two hours depending on your Wi-Fi connection.
But guess what, it’s not as simple as that. Because these families who have mastered the art where we watched and we say, that is fantastic looping back to number one it’s a full-time job, but it’s not just a full-time video job.
It is a full-time digital marketing job. They have to nail the title, tags, thumbnail and all these things are important for one simple thing they have to be discoverable.
They have to be able to be found otherwise nobody watches their videos, what is the point of spending all that time not connected with your children, but instead connected with a video camera to then share it with the world.
That’s a technical umbrella on almost a start to finish what happens with a bit of bias.
Dr Ro: I know from creating my own stuff how long it takes, and I think just to balance this is when you’re watching a programme or a series like that particularly for these ones that have lots and lots of views in thousands or millions that there is a business behind.
There are products being promoted, revenue being generated.
It’s a choice, probably from the parents that we can do this to create a revenue to do this with our kids and take them here.
What we’re doing is just painting a picture for you to understand the different extremes.
Harms: Hopefully, that makes sense in regards to wanting to put your kids on to create a business out of it.
Now that’s the kind of process that’s involved.
That’s one principle to really understand, now Ro I want to throw this back on you because you would have potentially experienced this.
I have not yet, but I can feel why this may creep in, just from my own use of social media. The question is, have you faced any pressure and if you have what pressures have you faced to actually go and put your kids on social media?
I ask this question bearing in mind you just mentioned other YouTube stars. I mentioned Casey Neistat.
But there are actually YouTube families out there, where their entire life is documented on YouTube and it’s a business for them. But that’s sort of one pressure.
One is monetary.
Another pressure may be the kids asking so I guess the question is, have you come under this pressure?
Dr Ro: That is a very good question.
Oddly enough, not a massive amount of pressure because I think of the evolution of the conversations that occur in our household. Myself and my partner tend to be of a similar view on this in the same way I think you are with Geena, your wife.
What has happened on occasions the kids have become attached to when we were travelling the last couple years there are a few of the YouTube channels that they followed, as you just mentioned there and these are revenue generating YouTube channels as well for those families.
Some of them we like the ethics, the values, and the message so we allow the kids to watch some of that to get inspiration about places to go visit so that’s the benefit of these videos as well.
That led to conversations from my eldest saying, what if we were to do that, why don’t we create videos and we can show people where we’re travelling and we can share our experiences.
That did come up in a conversation on this last year certainly when we were in Australia we got close to doing it.
I had one person who is kind of in the media world suggest why don’t you do some stuff with your family you’ve got good quality values.
Why don’t you start capturing that journey that you’re on with your kids now on YouTube so that people can see how your life is and how you live, the healthy aspects to your life and the balance you create.
That was about four years ago and I thought, you know, I don’t feel I need to do that on social media to make a statement about my values.
Because it felt like if I do that is Dr Ro using my family as a way of saying hey look at me, I eat healthy, I do this I do that, and that just didn’t feel right to me.
That felt like it’s coming from a place of ego to show the world how I operate and I think there’s other ways I can do that as a speaker and as a writer.
Not a massive amount of pressure mainly I think because I’m pretty clear to people I’m around where I stand. When you have such a strong set of beliefs people don’t go near him or her, because we know how they operate.
Harms: It is interesting to know, if I add another additional point then have you faced any challenges with this?
You mentioned something in Australia and the kids wanting to put some stuff online. How did you deal with that?
Because that is a form of pressure, especially if one of the young ones are saying daddy I want to put this on, I want to show this.
How did you manage that situation knowing that they wanted to go on social media?
Dr Ro: The answer is yes.
They get excited having seen another child do it.
We came back from the Maldives to Australia it was like, what if we just capture every time we go out and film it and so the conversation started to become about what shall we film and before we knew it we were having 30, 40 minute conversations about the plan for the day is to go to this museum, then this art gallery.
Then we’re going to look at the sea and walk along the sea and find a nice café and a vegetarian restaurant. So what if we film there? It was weird.
The experience wasn’t then about us just going freestyle and being there in these incredible places around the world.
It was actually about how do we plan the day to start doing a bit of filming and how do we capture that. I started thinking how many batteries do I need; do we have the tripod?
If you are an adult you know these kids live in the moment, so they just think great it’s instant we can just do it. But equally, kids get irritated once that moment has passed and they want to have the experience of the next moment.
So what we found was, although I got the structure plan in my head. I said to the kids at the end of the day we need to talk to the camera and explain about how our day was and after the first day of trying this it was like, daddy do we have to have the camera out?
This was a conversation about 6pm having been out and I said what do you mean?
Well, we head the camera out at the museum and the beach and you asked me to go back and do that bit again. I had to as we missed that bit and all of a sudden they started to get peed off and I instinctively knew this was going to happen.
But honestly, you cannot be in the moment being present, experiencing a first-time experience with your kids like seeing stingrays, turtles and all the stuff that was first time for them and doing that whilst filming the experience and saying do it again.
You never see the world in the same way you would do as a parent, just being in the moment and as somebody that is very aware of this.
We have done a bit of filming but it has never really found its way anywhere because we just kept in-house for the kids but didn’t work for us. I just felt exactly as you describe.
It felt like I was going to work.
Same way I’d be preparing for a podcast or going to feel myself speaking.
All of a sudden my kids became a mobile set.
I know there might be people doing stuff with their kids on YouTube and I would honestly ask any of those families hand on heart to say to me they can do it first time. First cut, it’s very natural and then still have the experience with the kids.
I just find it hard to believe.
I think as adults we have this natural instinct to want to get the right angle and all of a sudden the children who are just there in the moment are not in the moment anymore.
Harms: All of these niggling things which take you away from the moment.
If somebody is listening to this and now you’ve heard me describe the process, you’ve heard Ro describe it happening live on holiday, I would say try it.
If you have this feeling to want to do this I would say try it with the questions we’re going to give you at the end.
Because then you’ve really been mindful about the whole process and it is really interesting to see how this topic of social media affects everybody on all levels.
Whether it’s putting kids on social media, whether it’s how the adults tackle this, to build a brand, whether it’s to share the amazing life that you are living.
Whatever it is I think what’s interesting to see from my generation is there’s this real divide and what I’ve noticed is the large percentage use social media it may not look like everybody is actively sharing.
But I can promise you, everybody is actively consuming.
Sharing is when you’re actually physically posting, but then you have to think about all those people who are watching the content and we know it’s in the billions, because that’s how many users are on Facebook and Instagram than YouTube.
These people are looking at your life, the life of the people that are posting and it can, to be honest, cause some serious terminal which I’ve seen smaller parts of my generation who have completely off social media.
They just cut it or decided maybe they have some wisdom or foresight and said that this is not for me.
Maybe they knew what those celebrities knew that they didn’t share with the rest of the population, which was either they just thought what the hell is all this about and came off it completely, or they just have that wisdom to say no thank you.
Interestingly enough I fall into one of those categories where I don’t use social media for personal experience in terms of consumption or sharing.
I know you’re very similar. We both use it for business.
Bearing in mind I never had social media as a child and I think it may be useful for me to share this because people of my generation may be going through this and I want to say it is okay to go through this cycle.
Harms: This is a snapshot of my wasted energy on this thing that we call social media in terms of consumption and not using it as it should be, and it’s a very powerful tool, I should make a note there.
It’s a very powerful tool if used in the right way. But what it can cause is things like this.
The first example when I first experienced social media I consumed it.
It was what is everybody else doing? How amazing are their lives.
When I dug deep and I really asked myself the question, it was I’m going to start sharing stuff because I want to look like those people.
I want them to feel like, or other people to feel like my life is just as cool as other people. I’m just as smart, witty, and just as funny. My food is just as good. Whatever the kind of stuff I used to post and then I was like I’m really sick of this.
What I did as I turned my account to private, which meant publicly people can’t see it and they would have to ask to see my profile and then I would invite them in.
Now, when I dug deeper I realised that was just another ego mechanism where I was saying, I’ve got a private life and if you want to see it, you’ve got to ask my permission.
So that was just as messed up, that was another interesting discovery and then what happened I just completely stopped posting for years.
I often see this with a lot of people. They won’t post anything and all of a sudden you see their baby photo.
But I don’t judge them because I know that’s happened to me, which is fascinating, but when we dig deeper, which hopefully will help them with some questions in a moment they’ll understand why we go through this turmoil, and why we waste all this time here.
Then I switched off. I switched off my privacy part and I opened it up to the public again and I started to post again and I was just like I’ve had enough.
This is just a complete joke and I completely switched off all personal consumption and sharing and only used it for business purposes. It was very much my business partner and also to see how you operated to say actually, you can continue to live your life however you want to live your life be super happy.
There’s no need to interact with complete strangers online, but you can benefit from the powerful tool that is social media if you use it as a business, so that’s a quick snapshot and no doubt there were a lot more checkpoints along the way.
But a quick snapshot of how much time and energy I wasted and interestingly I know I’m not alone because I can physically see this pattern happen to other people on their accounts. I use it as a fascinating human observation tool, but it is really, really just a mind-blowing amount of energy wasted.
Dr Ro: My feeling is that you’ve described something that other people must have related to.
You can go to celebrities that have gone through this, Ed Sheeran famously just recently I think came off everything.
You add being a parent in there and it’s certainly a different dimension now because it’s targeting back on those basic core needs that we have which are needed to connect with other people.
The need to be recognised by people, the need for ego to feel like we are being seen and I’m pressing a button that might possibly upset people, but I honestly question, sometimes when people throw pictures of their kids all over social media or into the Facebook page.
If you did it and you don’t expect anything back. That’s one thing.
But people get so many likes, so much recognition and as people as human beings it’s one of the basic human needs. It’s the need to have connection and to be recognised by people.
Years ago when I was doing a lot of inspirational type talks I used the word recognition.
Babies cry for it, soldiers die for it.
Think about that for a minute. In between that is us in our daily lives and sometimes we don’t get it. So we get it by throwing a picture of our kids onto social media and I’m just being Devil’s advocate.
Why are those photographs going up there?
Is it because you want to share it with a few of your friends but as your social media page has got several hundred people on it and then what need does that fulfil?
That thrown into your mix Harms that becomes really interesting because you’re absolutely right, you’re now at the end of that point where you kind of being very specific about how you use social media from a business perspective and you’ve got a baby coming up in a few weeks’ time, and depending on where your emotional development is, where your needs are.
Harms: This links to what you described there, but Harms you’re not a baby, but the message here and if you’ve understood the point is between the age of 20 when Facebook and stuff started to become a thing and the age of 30 I went through all of this.
I went through those checkpoints and if we tie it to what Ro is saying is basically me saying every six months or every two months I need some recognition.
Give me a hit of recognition.
Now, if that’s me as a grown man in my 20s, 30s, seeking out the recognition and not understanding this cycle and what’s happening and how to get it and realised that I was in between a soldier and a baby.
Imagine if this is an eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14-year-old who is going to that turmoil, but maybe doesn’t have the maturity, doesn’t understand what the world is really about, and it’s arguable to say they shouldn’t have to at that age.
Imagine them going through all of that. What is that taking them away from?
Dr Ro: What’s scary is imagine an 11-year-old going onto YouTube and saying how many hits did our video get? How many people like me?
Their whole psyche starts to evolve based on how many likes did I get, how many hits do I get?
Let me tell you now, I’ve put videos up and even I’ve gone back and looked to see what response that got because I’ve noticed on a message I put out there I’ve got hits and it was a message about parenting.
Harms would reflect back and say that’s a really topical subject.
Whereas if I’d gone onto it thinking why are people not liking this, I need more views.
Imagine me as a young 10, 11, 12-year-old I’m in that vulnerable space where I’m feeling sensitive. Maybe I’ve not got a good relationship with my parents because they’re not very present with me and there’s another conversation to have with yourself.
If we’re always working, covid’s changed things. It’s created a situation where parents are coming back into the home and having to learn to be present.
But what if you’ve got children who never get a chance to have that time with you because you’re always working, you don’t have the time to be present so they go thriving that presence and that recognition somewhere else and suddenly social media becomes that place.
What’s that adult going to be like in 10 to 15 years?
I’m smiling because I know how many people we’ve had to help and Harms and you’ll vouch for this, is when somebody comes to an event and we do an intervention and I ask enough questions you see, the penny drops.
And they can let it go somewhere in the makeup they had a set of emotional events that triggered off a set of beliefs and the minute they can see where that came from and they can clear it, let it go.
They don’t have to rely on that as a way of feeling like they are a human being, everything changes.
It’s deep and it may feel a bit deep, this black belt stuff we’re talking about on this podcast, but it’s going to trigger my first question.
Harms: Those challenges which current adults come to the live events, and they unlock these challenges which they had in their childhood, which just sets them free.
What’s fascinating about social media is we don’t understand the impact that it’s going to have on them, when they turn up to a live event and meet a Rohan in 20, 30, 40 years and go to an or event or something similar and they say, okay, I didn’t realise that this is because when I put a whole bunch of videos between the age of eight and 12 on social media and got horrible comments back like you’re ugly.
This video is not funny, that’s me being gentle.
All you have to do is go to anybody’s YouTube account any YouTube video look at the comments and you can see how brutal people are now, that is not what your kids need to see or be exposed to because they shouldn’t have to be fixing simple things like this when they’re 30, 40, in the workplace and they’re scared to do things.
Scared to stand up because somebody shot them down because of their YouTube videos that they posted when they were eight years old.
Dr Ro: I was talking about it’s really important to be more present with our kids and that may sometimes mean dropping a project you are looking to do, which might involve money and having more time with your family.
Some woman came back and said, you’re so full shit.
Had I been an 11-year-old and see that I might have then found myself saying the opposite, or do something to please those people, but you can never please 10,000, 15,000, 20,000.
It’s never going to happen. It becomes this self-destructive mechanism. If we don’t mature enough to handle it and at a young age I don’t think most kids are.
Harms: We’ve really talked and we’ve gone deep.
With this depth, let’s now take a few steps out and actually leave the listeners with some questions and this is the core of this episode, which we will leave you with something which will get you thinking.
We’ve talked about social media, putting your kids on social media and all the aspects around it.
Ro what are questions that our listeners can ask themselves as parents or going to be parents, people who are very close with parents who have newborns so brothers and sisters of people are just about to have children.
All these people I think it’s going to be massively important that they left with this thought-provoking set of questions which they can use and think about when we talk about social media.
Because like I said, this young generation has not gone through a full cycle yet, so we have to be mindful.
Let’s not go 50, 60 years down the line and then say social media has really messed up our kids what shall we do to fix it?
Let’s try to do something along the way.
Dr Ro: Again as I ask the questions and this is with any type of question I’m going to approach this as a coach, so the assumption is if you come this far down the podcast rabbit hole with us, you are okay for us to ask questions that may challenge you, and if I was going face-to-face in a coaching session with you, or if I was being coached I would give my coach permission to be direct.
The first question is why would I or I can ask you, why would you want to, or you can ask yourself why would I want to put my kids on social media?
Why am I doing this?
Simple fundamental question, you might think I just want to show a video of them, but I will ask a deeper question that’s a surface question to some extent. Let me go deeper. Is this to meet your own needs?
I’m asking the question, what do you get by putting your kids on social media?
If you get lots of likes and recognition and people saying to you my gosh your kids are amazing, you should be so proud. You are amazing, you’ve got these wonderful kids. Who is that about? It’s a basic human need, so I’m asking the question provocatively, but also as a coach is, why are you wanting to do that?
Without judgement, just asking the question let me add another layer to that.
The opposite to that it could be is it to get an authentic message out?
Are you showing a video of your children doing X, Y, and Z because you want to get a personal message out to the world to share or inspire them is that another reason, and that’s a different one to the first one.
Is it to build a brand around your kids?
Are you doing it from a business perspective, and for that reason, you’re doing it in a structure, certain number of videos you’ve got links, promotions, you get such a referral fee.
Is that what it is for? That’s the first question harms, why are you doing it and the big question in my mind, is it for your needs to be met or for the benefit of your kids?
Harms: That’s really powerful and the most important one.
If you were to take one away it’s that first one because it allows us to lead into the next question.
The question which would lead on after that is, let’s assume you are going to put your children on social media or hypothetically you are.
We can then ask the question what impact will this have on your experience with your kids?
What I mean by that is Ro has already described a very tiny maybe that was a day and on his holiday in Australia where that day, he always had his camera on. So if you always have the camera on how will that impact the experiences with your kids?
Will that mean you remain present with them?
Do you continue to feel present with them or do you then become disconnected from what is exactly happening at that moment?
Think about going to a concert and recording the concert on your mobile phone is a classic version of are you present in the moment in music in the concert and the energy, or are you present with ensuring that you can see that your phone is recording this experience to share with somebody else?
Then if you are going down this route and you have the camera out another powerful question to ask yourself is, do you feel that they are also enjoying the experience?
Ro you mentioned by the time you got to the evening and you sat on the sofa on this one day in Australia, the kids were like all put the camera away now, which is a good indicator of maybe they are no longer enjoying the experience.
Which is awesome because you’ve gone for the process you asked the question; do you feel like they’re enjoying the experience.
If the answer is obviously no because they’re saying it to you.
This is no longer fun, then hopefully that should help answer the question.
Dr Ro: If you find yourself saying to your kids but it’s just this one last video and it wraps up the whole day we will have everything done then. That one last video could be 15, 20, 30, 40 minutes.
If you find yourself doing that are you listening to your kids or are you meeting your own needs?
Harms: What comes after that?
Dr Ro: The next thing for me is to ask the question if you’re going to do this, then ask yourself this question, what’s the balance?
You’ve chosen to bring your children into the world when they first emerge, you’re holding them in your arms and you’re looking down at the lovely little face.
Did you say to them, by the way daddy is going to film you all the time and take you everywhere and post pictures of you on social media.
There will be times when you want to play with me, but I’m just going to get the camera in your face and just keep filming it, edit it later in the evening, stick it out. Is that what you said in that moment when you looked into the eyes of your beautiful child?
But the question is what’s the balance?
When my kids are around me and I want to take a picture. Sometimes I don’t. I just want to remember it, and I don’t have a need to capture it on film.
We have parents that are quite remote from us, so we’ve got parents in Denmark. My mums four hours from where we live. She loves the experience of us sending down photographs of what they are doing on a daily, weekly, basis.
We do that for our own purposes.
If you’re doing it for social media there is a different agenda here, we are not talking about one or two members of the family now, you’ve got a reason you’ve decided to get it out to a larger audience.
Then maybe you could think about what situations to do it in, so the kids at least get some measure of presence with you.
Just because you’re with your kids doesn’t mean your present with your kids, you could be on your phone uploading it or editing.
An hour gone by and you say I was on the beach with my kids. Just so we’re clear right you’re on the beach for an hour and 20 minutes with your kids, you film them for 20 minutes the other hour, you are physically on the beach, but you were present not with your kids, you are present with your phone.
I’m just asking the question because I had to have the same conversation with myself.
The other question inside that is how much time is spent doing it, so you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re going to do it, then do you allocate a certain amount of time to do it?
How much time do you feel is sensible before it becomes silly and now you don’t feel present with your family and your kids.
More technical questions about the balance of time, really.
Harms: To sort of finalise this process of questions is just reloop back to yourself on a personal level and just ask yourself what are you looking to achieve from this?
What is the outcome you want from having exposed your children to social media, put them on social media and it can fall in various categories.
It could be simply money. Are you looking to add another revenue to your family and that is okay.
Is it fame?
Is it a combination of both, i.e. you’re building the brand which is linked to fame and money. Is it potentially what may not be so obvious but may be as obvious now, after Ro has described it.
Is it that recognition that you are hoping to achieve from this?
Linked to that are all of the other hidden things that we may not realise until we ask these deeper questions.
For example, for the parent is it just to make you feel good? Is it those things that are hidden that you’re after in regard to an outcome?
It’s really interesting to think about that because they’re not so obvious about money, fame, brand business, they are the obvious ones.
You get paid for a sponsored post. Your kid wears a specific brand and you may pick up a cheque for £5,000 for it, it all sounds appealing, but hidden behind those are all of these sort of triggers that trigger us as on a human level that our child won’t experience yet, but it’s really for you.
I think on the final question it’s really just reminding yourself looping back and saying on a personal level, what am I looking to achieve from this whole project?
Dr Ro: I think that’s a nice round circle we’ve come back around to.
These are four questions to really take away from this podcast. If you take nothing else away, at least ask these questions; it doesn’t harm you to ask them, at least you know as you move forward what your philosophy is behind why you’re doing this.
Harms: I want to ask a counter question because like you said, we may sound like because the way we live our lives is not really on social media on a personal level.
We are very much on a business level which is the flipside question, which is okay, so are you guys saying it’s never okay to put your kids in social media?
If there is a time to put kids on social media when is it?
What are your thoughts here?
Dr Ro: When you listen to podcasts like this it will always be one- or two-people’s view.
If we had 10 sets of parents around the table here and having a conversation, you might get a slightly different perspective.
I think you’ve done a great caveat on that and you may be expanded on the fact that the number of people I work with in the field I have unravelled certain codes and certain clues that the world has left that told me, when people experience this at a young age it tends to result in this behaviour later on.
The answer to that is, we need to ask deeper questions.
What I think this is about is about the driving force behind why you’re putting your children on social media and it might be a little bit of recapping what we’ve just asked the question about but the four questions above really help with this.
Here’s an example, I recently saw a Facebook post from somebody whose two children were reading out something about personal development. The kids are I think from memory six, seven, eight, nine and the children were reading it, and as you watched it kind of felt a little bit like they’d been prompted to do it.
It was cute to watch but my gut told me it’s like they’ve been sitting on the couch and the parents guiding a little bit maybe and filming in a certain way to get this message over.
It went onto Facebook got loads of likes, loads of thumbs and people saying, your kids are so cute, you must be so proud and when I watched it and I saw the comments in the gut of my stomach I was asking myself the question has this person put it up there because they’re really proud and they want to show the world about the kids.
Did the kids actually want to put up there?
What was the outcome of that for the parent?
Harms: I’m laughing because I was subjected to this.
You’d have close families, uncles, aunts around for that dinner on Saturday. Then your mum and dad say what that poem that thing you’ve been writing I want you to stand up in front of everybody right now and present it.
Then everyone is like your son, your daughter is so fantastic.
Dr Ro: How would that have felt if you’d said I’d really like to read this poem to everybody.
I’ve practiced it, I want to share it, so people can get the words from this poem.
How would that feel if it had been that way?
Harms: I think probably talking about the 1% of children who would want to do that at that time, but that’s different because it’s come from me.
But that wasn’t myself I was forced and all my poor cousins and brothers and sisters were forced and I’d sit there like it’s your turn. It was just hilarious.
Now the thing is that used to happen in a safe space, a safe environment but the parent would still be doing it for them, not me.
But that’s okay because it’s in front of family.
Dr Ro: Proud parents.
Harms: That would be it, I find it fascinating because what you described there could be anybody, but it used to happen classically in a safe space where the child is just going to get encouragement.
Dr Ro: Here’s the thing there were several hundred views people shared the video and yes, we say those things.
The question is, what was the intent?
What was the driving force behind this?
There are three things in answer to your question because I think all we can do is lay it out and people make judgement in terms of what’s right for their kids.
Please don’t listen to this and think oh shit, I actually never looked at it this way. The point is we have no control. I think that will be fair to say. If I’m in my front room and my daughter wants to play the piano for the family they are the only ones watching it, unless a member of my family films it and puts onto Facebook, all of a sudden another thousand people might watch it, but outside that it’s never going outside. The minute it goes to Facebook you have no control as far as I understand.
Harms: Now every so often, two things happen.
One is somebody doesn’t comment, they just consume it and they think their thoughts. Now that doesn’t really matter to us, we don’t want to trouble ourselves with what other people are thinking.
Every so often somebody thinks it and they say it and they say it on the post, which is something negative about that scenario, you know, like I said previously you’re ugly, you’re rubbish at piano.
I really encourage parents to go onto YouTube and Facebook and look at the way strangers comment on a post that has nothing to do with them, without any care about how it affects the person.
That’s where we are at.
Dr Ro: I was in a post office and a child sat there watching someone play piano and the person playing the piano on YouTube channel probably about four years younger than the child. The mum was saying why can’t you play a piano like that?
I’m thinking oh my god, this child’s watching another child play piano who is younger than him. And the parent is going at her child about not being good enough or not as good as that child. I’m painting air may be an extreme picture and I think the point is, it goes back to the balance question, why are we doing this?
The three things, number one who is this for?
Am I driving this as an adult or is my child driving it?
Because if they want to do it and have a desire to do it, then it’s more about how we regulate that. Number two is are you trying to impress somebody? I felt this is just my observation. I might be wrong, but when I watched that video the other day I just got a feeling that the parent was trying to make a statement to get attention.
That was something in the way it was filmed, et cetera so, what’s the driver behind this?
If you’re going to do this video and post your kids what is I for?
Are you trying to get attention or impress somebody?
Is there a need that you need to get met? Number three is if it is your kids driving it ask the same question what’s driving their desire to do it?
Why and what is the purpose?
If they want help and share and inspire people. Brilliant.
If they’re doing it to get a lot of hits, get recognised and get some recognition, ask yourself the question is that the best message to tell my kids that they only get recognition by doing this.
You might say I’m over thinking this and there’s an argument to say, well, you know, it’s just a video but I think it comes down to your awareness of a few things to ask yourself.
Maybe where is my child’s videos being posted, who’s going to watch them, how’s the material going to be used?
These are just questions I think to ask when it comes to the question you asked me is, so should we never do it?
I’m saying be more thoughtful about how and when you do it.
Harms: When your children get older and they say okay, but I want to do something online. I want to share something online.
Maybe their friends are doing something like that, how would you approach that situation in regards to asking them why. Maybe what kind of responses and I’d implore parents to actually go and try this themselves, but what kind of responses typically would you expect from a child when you ask them why and how can parents almost decode what’s going on there?
In regards to wanting to say I really want to go on social media.
Dr Ro: I think the key thing is to just talk to your children, and this happened when the kids wanted to do the video.
That was really maybe the kids because see daddy teaching. So for them in no way was there I want to get recognition. I want people to like my videos, I want to get 15,000, 10,000, 50,000 views. It was coming from a place of just wanting to share something.
The key thing is to ask honest questions of your children about what the driving force is.
What do they hope to gain from it? What is the intention behind it?
How will it make them feel is a really good question, is it something they want to do for fun, is it because they want to get more attention and attract more people to like them, which is a slightly different experience altogether.
That’s one that would concern me because they’re chasing recognition, which goes back to the early part of the podcast.
I think as adults we should be intuitive enough to get a sense of where that driving force is and then from there I would ask my kids what’s another way we could get that?
We could write a book, a journal or do a video for granny instead. Sometimes it’s just redirecting the way they’re thinking and asking the question a different way. If they want to help people I might say, what’s another way we can help people and who do you want to help?
I want people to understand how we did this wool. If I didn’t want them to go on I could say who else could we help granny might like it because she likes wool jumpers.
Then I’m back to them, not me saying this what we’re going to do.
Sometimes it’s just redirecting their thinking. If you think the intention isn’t necessarily the healthiest intention for them.
Harms: What if you had some kickback from that from parents and they said isn’t that too controlling?
Is there a level of parental responsibility, because the reality is our kids don’t know the danger and the risks associated with what happens in social media.
I just described my on, off, on, off, on, off social media experience and the kids won’t understand that yet because they come from this amazingly pure place which I’ve learnt from time with you about explaining the child’s development.
They come from this really pure place. I want to share it because this is amazing and that’s as simple as it is for them, but there are some risks involved, as that progresses.
I think as a parent you are aware of those so you try to protect them.
Is that in your line of thinking?
Dr Ro: We all have it so every single of us, myself included, it’s built into us at some point in our lives. I guess the more conscious we become of it there is less of a need for it. That is some form of validation, some form of acknowledgement, some form of having our ego.
If we go back to the basic human needs, belonging, the need for security. We’ve got the need for recognition or feeling importance.
We’ve got the need for standing out, variety.
The risk here is that children use this as their mechanism for getting validation for even the smallest things they do.
As opposed to just doing it because they love it.
That’s the challenge I have where the experience doesn’t become about the experience. Now it’s the child’s own emotional growth as it becomes about being recognised.
They now spend their lives seeking the next level of recognition so nothing is ever really satisfying because there’s got to be another way to get a greater level of recognition. How come they got 65 views, I only got 35.
Harms: Depending on the kind of reaction response or recognition they get they can potentially walk down these various paths.
The vanity, the showing off, the sense of power and ego. The sense of superiority.
Dr Ro: That’s a very good point it plays out in the school environment and into adult life as well. You’ve witnessed it in your own experience, I’ve seen you deal with it in a professional environment as well because you tend not to go into that space.
But I’ve seen you in situations where there are people around you trying to compete in that space, and you haven’t felt the need to do it, so something in your makeup has never been triggered by that.
You’ve not been driven by that as a driver where some people you have had to deal with are, and so they’ll try to bolster themselves up, make themselves look more special.
Harms: It really plays out on social media.
One of the challenges parents may not understand is that if you decide to go down the road and you put your kids video on YouTube or Facebook, et cetera one of the flipside challenges is, what if nobody watches them.
What if they get no recognition, and if you remember what I said at the start, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, et cetera they are advertising companies.
They are advertising placement companies so people pay them for their information and posts and adverts to be seen.
They are really not into allowing thousands and thousands of people to see your post. If it’s your first post and your child and it gets two likes that could be just as disheartening to the whole experience so it plays out in many, many, many different ways good or bad.
Dr Ro: Harms maybe describe some scenarios that you could wrap a shape around for people to go okay, this is how it plays out when it comes to responsibility and understanding the risks.
Harms: As well as the risks associated with it, I want to give them something to actually do instead. We want to leave you with some thoughtful things you can actually do and some action points you can do.
I will be approaching this from a more technical side of things based on our company, what we see plus a bit of human behaviour and that is two very common scenarios.
Which I can even link back to my childhood in terms of what I would typically do as a child. Scenario number one is classic, we want to use social media simply to connect, share with family, do some live filming, or film something just so that we can literally pass it onto grandma, friends, families.
People who you trust and are close to now, the risk is we do this in an online space and expose this to strangers.
How can you have the best of both worlds?
Set up a private group on whatever platform you use, so if it’s Facebook, you can set up a private Facebook group and in the settings you can set it to secret, which means even people in the public can’t find it unless they know the exact name. You can invite your family, friends, et cetera into there and then everybody can see it privately in that space.
That’s one way to continue to use social media in a really sensible way.
If you feel like after listening to myself and Ro talk about social media and putting your kids on social media. You may say I am done; I need a social media break. I need to reassess how I am using this then alternatively with connecting and sharing with your family and friends just use something like WhatsApp.
It’s completely off-line in the sense that you’re not on social media.
Dr Ro: What I like is that you’re giving people an out if they still want to do a share you’re giving them a simple way to do that.
So WhatsApp I think is one of those spaces where you can control who’s on there but that’s a great suggestion. It was convenient and I can remember when people in the family did want a photograph and back in my day it was a film, took it to the print, came back and sent it in the post.
Then all of a sudden wow one photograph, one click I can post.
I think the ease and the convenience of it, we went the opposite way.
Harms: I think you can do that in a sensible, responsible way as well so that’s scenario one. Scenario two is, I think if your children have an instinct or they are of the age where they want to express their creativity, maybe inspired by movies, music videos, this art of storytelling or the whole Harry Potter series, et cetera and they’re just so inspired, and the want to replicate that in their own life making mini movies, mini documentaries, fun photography, whatever they want to do.
I actually took this from my wife Geena because when we had this conversation one thing she said to me was when we did create movies and replicated music videos and all the fun stuff you do as kids we would do a family screening.
On the weekend we’d make mum and dad sit down and we’ll show them the movies that we made and they’d have to sit there and bear it. Just like when they make us stand up and read poems.
We did the reverse to them and had to watch our movies and music videos that we recreated. It allows them to tap into that creativity, it allows them to share what they’ve created.
But interestingly enough, this is a completely off-line activity.
It does not require any social media platform, you can easily pick up a £30, £40 Canon video camera which you won’t mind getting damaged and get them filming and allow them a really simple free video editing tool.
There are really cool things you can do out there which do not require a social media platform, but still allow children to pursue that passion, creative passion.
Also I think as an important note is the feedback is also controlled because keeping it really simple, there are some crazy people online and there some people who maybe haven’t got their shit together and they want to express their negativity on other people, just sharing doing their thing and they’re brutal.
If we can control that feedback for children, certainly in the early years when they’re 20, 25, 30 they will automatically understand how crazy the world is.
But do they have to experience that at the age of eight, seven, 11.
I don’t know.
Dr Ro: This podcast has been very much about provoking thoughts, questions, challenging where you’re at, not in a negative way, but just really as we’ve been doing over the years just asking those questions.
The other thing you’ve got as a parent; you do have the ability to have some control over the social media platforms, so do take the time to understand them better. I think that’s something Harms alluded to earlier on in the podcast and I think for a lot of us we will put an app on our phone and the older generation we go, how does it work?
We don’t go and delve behind and get under the hood and have a look and see how can I switch this or how can I do that, how I can restrict that. I think this getting comfortable looking underneath the hood of your platform you’re using and finding out whether it can control certain things is great.
So do that.
Look at things like notifications, who sees your post. You can find out about that.
What do they see, who can you see, that’s another thing to be mindful as well.
It just takes a little bit of work to do this and set it up the way you want it to do. The classic example is you can just simply turn off comments on your Facebook and you can restrict what people are saying.
If you are going to do it at least it’s just purely the fact that the information has been presented. The videos there. If your children happen to be on social media and they look at their own video they don’t see some idiot there making a negative comment about the children and going oh my gosh what does that mean about me?
Just something as simple as that can change the child’s experience of their own videos being shown online.
Harms: I think it’s worth noting that when you do download the app and platform they are by default set up to expose you and what I mean by exposure is give away as much of your data as possible so that advertising companies can advertise to you.
But because of all of the pressures that they faced governmental courts, legal action, et cetera they give you a lot of access to customise the app in whichever way you want, especially based on what you see and what you don’t see.
Ro if you were to look at my Facebook newsfeed on my phone I see nothing. I see nobody’s posts now, apart from three people.
One of those people is yourself because we support your business as well, but I see nothing. If I log onto Facebook on my computer I’m using an app which completely blocks your Facebook feed, you just can’t see it and it just puts a really cool quote there instead.
There’s all of this functionality available to us.
It just requires a bit of time and effort so that our kids are not exposed to something which is quite damaging.
Dr Ro: Imagine a child seeing a comment on your phone and it’s a reference to a video that’s being posted about them.
They click on that, suddenly, that takes them down a rabbit hole because then that opens up other comments and they suddenly follow somebody else’s, and before you know it they’re on the screen for 20, 30 minutes just chasing loads of comments about various things to try and get some gratification.
A good step now is to take a journey into the future and literally walk down this path that you’re on, five, 10, 15, 20 years.
Imagine that you’re sitting on a rocking chair on a bench looking over a lake or something. You’re looking back at these memories of this period when your kids were growing up and you’re reflecting on that.
How do you want it to look?
How do you want the experience to feel?
How do you want to remember those experiences you had with your kids?
Did you want magic moments when you were present and you were actually able to just experience it without a camera being out or anything?
Or is it a case of I remember that when we were filming that footage for our YouTube channel and suddenly it’s dulled by the experience and I am not trying to bias you.
You have to reflect back; you have to go into the future to look back. Was it how you wanted your kids to remember this?
If you could look back from the future as a 70, 80, 90-year-old and your kids are grown up now. Is this how you want the mental photo album to be of you on the camera filming them, posting it to social media, checking on the likes. Is that you wanted?
What memories do you want to leave?
What footprints do you want to leave in their minds?
The last thing really is just reflect on the questions we asked earlier on, which were quite provocative about your reasons why you do it, how you’re doing it.
What’s the driving force?
Harms: That’s a fantastic place to leave us Ro and thank you for those thought-provoking things to leave the listeners with.
That’s myself and Ro signing out. We shall see you in the next episode.
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