Confessions of a Social Media Mom...

11/17/2011 10:42 am ET | Updated Dec 27, 2011
  • April Rudin Wealth Marketing Strategies, The Rudin Group

There is a lot of talk about the relatively, newly-coined term, "helicopter parent." In a broad definition, I think it means hovering parents who are controlling their kid's every move in life from what they eat, to who they are friends with, which extracurricular activities they participate in plus much, much more. Of course, the motivation behind this extreme behavior is the belief that its your "job" as a parent to supervise at close range.

In the above clip, you can see Kathleen Turner was a "helicopter mom" ahead of her time. This great 1994 film was previewed in Cannes and is still one of my favorite films! Kathleen stars as, "Serial Mom, " a preppy, station wagon driving, mom by day, and a killer by night. She actually murders a boy who stands-up her daughter to the prom and then, kills the math teacher that criticized her son! She has a "Stepford" exterior and a "Charles Manson" interior! Uber-helicopter parenting!

While not that extreme, I do see some of myself in Katheen Turner's character. I have been guilty of helicopter parenting my two sons ages: 18 and 16. And now, they have an additional protection against those who might mess with them, as I am a committed Social Media Mom.

According to my sons, I am super annoying. As the founder of a consulting firm that coaches financial services' firms on social media, I guess that I am more of a "wired" mom than most. I am expert at social media and teach others to understand it and use it properly. I have my own active profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Huffington Post, Chime.In, Klout and others platforms! I have followers, likes, pluses, etc. I maintain my own social media presence and also, sometimes ghost tweet or post on behalf of clients. I have my Blackberry in my hand or within reach most times and have even fell asleep with it! But, to protect and monitor my kids, I must employ "helicopter parenting" by insisting that they "friend" me on Facebook and let me see their posts and photos! We even follow each other on Twitter with all three of us tweeting!

Parenting has changed quite a bit and this new, somewhat disruptive technology has some true hazards along the way for those who don't quite understand how it works. The largest group would be teenagers and kids who are usually unsupervised while surfing the net and using social media. This includes posting pictures and making comments. Teens are sometimes impulsive and do not understand or even consider the long-term affects of the their actions. This is complicated by the amplification of the message via virally spread social media platforms. Hence, cyber-bullying.

Whereas when I was growing up, someone could make a nasty comment and go one by one to get others to follow, cyber-bullying is now a crowdsourcing technique used deliberately by some mean spirited kids. Others teens jump on the bandwagon without even considering the result. To further complicate this, parents are not internet nor social media savvy enough to keep their eye on what their children/teens might be doing!

John Kluge, Jr., my friend, was the first one that I heard to come up with the idea of a digital driver's license. Although involved in many projects and causes, he is a Resident Fellow at East West Institute at Columbia University. John currently leads the Digital Safety & Citizenship program as part of the Worldwide Cybersecurity Initiative. A digital driver's license is a pragmatically, simple idea which should be adopted into school curriculum just like driver's education.

Why send your kids out onto the digital highway of the Internet without training and subsequent "certification" so that they can understand how the internet operates, and will learn best practices and rules? The idea of mastering the "rules of the road" are just as important in a physical sense with a car as a electronic sense using social media. A great amount of hurt could be avoided with such a program.

I urge parents to learn about social media as it is not a fad that is going away anytime soon. In fact, its use will grow much more quickly overtime. Insist that your kids connect with you via social media even if they think you are "super annoying." Social media and the internet is one place where "helicopter parenting" should be encouraged!