I live in a great community called East Cobb in the ‘burbs of Atlanta, GA. I’m a member of a Facebook Group called the East Cobb Moms Exchange. It’s a unique and helpful group where, just as the title indicates, moms in the area exchange information. Here is an example of a recent post:
Isn’t that nice?? I truly love this community. She immediately had a few takers (this post made me laugh a little…so glad that I no longer have kids who need diapers!!!).
This morning a woman posted this query: “Does anyone know who’s rooster is in my parking lot at the McDonalds on waterfront and johnsonferry rd. I have called animal control but they won’t do anything. I have gotten complaints about it and need to get rid of it thanks.”
What happened next was interesting…there was an outpouring of support for the rooster, including fans suggesting that he be given an unofficial name and signage put up about him. So, meet Ronald, the unofficial mascot of this McDonalds. Apparently he is a feral rooster who freely roams the area. There are 85 comments and the conversation is still going as I type this post.
I love a good happy ending…and especially love that this local mom/manager leveraged her social media contacts to seek advice on how to get rid off what she perceived as a threat to the business…only to find out that it is really an asset, complete with its’ own fan base.
There is a lesson here for us all…sometimes traditional approaches (calling animal control in this case) don’t produce the results you want/need. Thinking outside of the box and leveraging your social media circles can help turn things around…turning a liability into a little chicken salad.
My daughter and I were interviewed yesterday by Fox 5 Atlanta’s Tacoma Perry about the risks involved in a relatively new website that teens and preteens are using called Ask.Fm. Here is a link to the interview:
Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5
To recap, Ask is a site where you set up a profile and anyone can anonymously ask you a question. Kids are using it to find out more about each other. Sometimes it’s cute “What’s your favorite color?” but I’ve seen more and more posts that are deeply alarming, including questions posed to 12 and 13 year old girls about their sexual history. I’ve also seen girls bullied and encouraged to commit suicide. I was so concerned about one kid that I called the police (who didn’t know WHAT to do).
Here is part of that thread. This poor kid was harassed beyond belief and told repeatedly that nobody liked her (including her parents) and that she should do the world a favor and die.
I wrote a little bit more about this website yesterday, you can read that here.
If your child is on Instagram, I would bet that they’ve had at least some exposure to Ask.Fm. If you’re curious as to whether or not your kid is using the site, go to any computer or device where they use the internet. Type in “www.ask.fm” in the browser. If they’re using it, their profile will likely pop up. And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.
Did you ever read Lord of the Flies? It’s basically about a bunch of kids who get stuck on a deserted island together and resort to governing themselves, to disastrous results. I am reminded of this savage behavior when I see kids interact online.
I was interviewed this morning by a local television station about a site called Ask.FM. This is a site where people set up an account and then anyone – anywhere – can ask them anything. Anonymously. Most of the accounts I’ve seen on it are kids, ranging in age from 11-15 or so. Some of it is harmless, what’s your favorite color, your favorite band, etc. And some of it is disturbing: hold old were you when started your period? What size bra do you wear?? How far have “gone” with a boy?
Incredibly, the kids answer. I’ve seen a kid ganged up on and bullied relentlessly, to the point where people are begging her to kill herself. I’ve seen another where someone said to her “I had a dream last night that I raped you. And I want to do it in real life….” This anonymous person then went on to describe, in horrifying detail, how he or she would rape this child.
Why is this happening? Why are our children resorting to savage behavior online when they are reasonably well behaved in person? It’s because they are not being governed. They’re not parented online; we have become functionally illiterate in the world in which our children live. It’s not because we don’t care…of COURSE we care. But we have been so slow to embrace online media. This generation of parents in many cases is still adjusting and adapting to Facebook. First of all, Facebook is merely the tip of the iceberg in social media. Second of all, kids have been moving away from it and onto other platforms at warp speed. We aren’t keeping up.
When our kids were little, crossing the street was a BIG deal. We established rules:
- Hold my hand
- Look both ways
- Cross at the crosswalk
Then they were rewarded or punished for how they did, “Great job looking both ways!! I’m proud of you!” Or if your kid broke one of the rules you would immediately stop what you’re doing and talk to (or yell at) your kid, reinforcing the rules and why they are so important. This cycle was rinsed and repeated until you felt somewhat confident that your kid would be safe.
We don’t have that for social media. And we need it. BADLY.
Kids need to know that:
- if someone says something to them that’s inappropriate, they need to get help from an adult. If someone threatens to rape you, they’ve actually committed a crime called a terroristic threat (defined as a crime generally involving a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize another.
- there is no true anonymity online. If you tell someone online to kill herself, and she does it, guess what? It’s YOUR fault. You can be held liable. And if you’re too young to go to jail you had better be ready for the lawsuit that will land on your parents for not properly raising you. Are you ready to lose your house and life savings?
- they should respect themselves enough to not answer the questions that are nobody elses business. Don’t be lured in by the Kardashian Currency of fame and infamy. It’s 99% smoke and mirrors and 1% emptiness and loneliness.
- they should be looking out for each other (and rewarded when they do so). I’ve seen it from time-to-time, “Hey! Leave her alone…I’ve reported you for cyber bullying….”
- if they see or hear someone threatening to hurt themselves or someone else, that they have an absolute obligation to step forward and say something, even if it has consequences (legal, social or otherwise).
There have been several suicides in the UK tied to ask.fm. We need to be proactive or I’m afraid of what might happen.
Those of you who know me personally know that I have worked on a few projects fighting CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation on children). This is a real problem that happens everywhere. In metro Atlanta underage girls are pimped an average of 350 times. PER MONTH. The average age of entry into this?? She’s about 12 years old. It is abhorrent but true.
Pimps are natural predators who are excellent at making these girls do whatever they want. And they are rolling with the times, which means that they are now using social media as a tool to get more girls. They look at these girls as possessions. The pimps take all of the money…and the more girls they have, the more money they make, pure and simple.
The pimps set up fake identities on social networks and pretended to be women (it’s less threatening to get a message from another girl). And girl after girl FELL for it. This message came from Facebook and was an exception:
Can you imagine being that kids mom??! She handled it a lot more gracefully than I would have. I think I would’ve been like “heck yeah I wanna do that! Come pick me up!” And then…go all Chuck Norris with a touch of Lorena Bobbit on them.
But enough about my “revenge on pimps” violent fantasies. The thing we need to talk about now is: what can you do to keep your kids safe? Fortunately, I have an answer. You might not like it, but that’s too bad.
Get plugged in. STAY plugged in. Know your kids friends, including the virtual ones. Find out what social platforms your kid is on and then get your own account. LEARN how to use it. Make sure that your kid has appropriate security settings. Turn the “map my photos” option off on Instagram. Make sure that only their friends can see their content on Facebook. Make sure that they have NO identifying information on Twitter that would make it easy for someone to find them in a crowd.
Teach your kids why they should never accept a Facebook friend request from someone they don’t know. Otherwise she could get one of these:
And if it happens to come on the wrong day, when her self esteem is low, she feels ugly, bored, angry at you, whatever, well…she could be ripe for the plucking by these bastards. So. Go get your learn on.
Here is a link to the article about pimps using social media. Reading it on a full stomach may lead to nausea…just a heads up.
Oh, and by the way, the pictures of the girls above are only meant to serve as a reminder of what a 12 year old girl looks like. In fact, to get it I googled “12 year old girl”. As far as I know none of them are involved in this kind of thing.
I have a confession to make. I don’t love football. THERE. I said it. I love tailgating and parties, however, and these often times seem to stem around football. And of course, my husband is a Virginia Tech graduate, which means that I know all about the Hokie Pokie and the controversial “Stick It In” cheer from years past. But it could be safely stated that I really only care about football enough to keep my marriage strong. Judge me if you must.
Last night we were invited to a Superbowl party by some great friends. I think I’ve (not) watched the Superbowl at their house for maybe the last ten years or so. It’s a tradition I adore where I eat all kinds of glorious food and somehow always manage to have one too many glasses of wine. I truly love it. I don’t watch much of the actual game but definitely perk up during the half time show as well as for the commercials. A few years ago I was quite proud of the fact that I was the only person at the party who noticed Janet Jackson’s now infamous wardrobe malfunction. They all laughed at me at the time…but I laughed last the next morning when the incident became a media sensation where Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson played a strange game of PR Hot Potato over who’s fault it was her nip popped out.
Last night, as I was enjoying my Blue Cheese and Caramelized Shallots Dip (seriously…best dip EVER), I noticed that the game had stopped. And the lights were out at the stadium. And then they stayed out for about 45 minutes. Bizarre. I suppose somebody will lose his or her job over that gaffe.
Since nothing was happening except players were walking around and bumping into each other on camera, I decided to check in with some of our social media clients. That’s when this popped up:
Oreo already had a pretty funny ad in place that ran during the game (the whisper fight in a library over which part is better, the cookie or the cream – the right answer is obviously COOKIE, by the way). But apparently the Oreo brand managers weren’t just sitting on their laurels, basking in the glow of a well-received ad.
They took a real-time event and engaged with it in a funny and creative way.
The outcome? The image on their Facebook page has been shared over 6,000 times. Over 20,000 people “liked” it. On twitter it’s been retweeted over 15,000 times, with many mentions of somebody getting a raise on their team.
The social media and brand team for Oreo took a crumbling cookie and slam dunked it, earning free press, positive PR and surely becoming a case study of how to effectively engage in new media.
Well done Oreo and 360i. I have never wanted an Oreo as much in my life as I do right now. Could it be the hangover? Well, maybe. But I’m pretty sure the marketing has something to do with it.