My Kid Wants to Be "Liked" on Facebook

Navigating self-worth and social media with young kids. By Sierra Filucci
My Kid Wants to Be "Liked" on Facebook

I'm on Facebook a lot. Like lots of moms, I love posting funny things my kids say, photos of them looking adorable, or even complaints about their behavior. I love reading the comments of my perpetually witty friends and family, but if a particular photo or post doesn't get much attention, I don't think much about it.

My kids -- at 6 and 8 -- are familiar enough with Facebook that a gorgeous meal I've cooked will often get the compliment, "Put it on Facebook, Mom!" So I didn't think it was strange when my son wanted me to post a photo of the awesome cardboard rocket ship he made. I put up the photo, along with a picture of the cardboard contraption my daughter also built. Then for the next few hours, my son kept asking to look at his photo on Facebook and started noticing how many "likes" he was getting. Then he started asking to see his sister's picture, too, and started comparing the number of comments and "likes."

Uh-oh, I thought. He's competing with his sister (nothing new) on Facebook (very new!). This was one of those parenting challenges I could never have imagined a few years ago, but I knew it felt as if we were heading in the wrong direction. I didn't want my son to start seeking validation from random "likes" on Facebook. I wanted him to be proud of the cardboard rocket he built because it's something he took time to make, and he had to think about how to attach the wings and what color to make the fuselage.

First I put a stop to him checking his sister's photo. And then when he was still asking to see how many "likes" he got the next day, I told him no more.  He's too young for me to explain the difference between internal and external validation, or how if he starts broadcasting himself on social media, he'll have to build up a tolerance for criticism. Instead, I noted my son's eagerness to compete and perform and resolved to encourage positive outlets for him, like gymnastics and piano. And when it's time for him to get his own Facebook account (or whatever kids are into then), we'll have a more thorough discussion about social media, how it can affect how you feel, and how to treat others online.

In the meantime, I might need to take a look at how often I'm on Facebook around my kids. They could probably use a little more eye contact and a little less of me staring at my phone to see who commented on their latest exploits.

Have you had any unexpected parenting challenges related to tech or social media? How did you handle it? (Also, pleeeease follow me on Twitter -- I want to be "liked," too!)

About Sierra Filucci

Sierra has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade, with a special interest in women's and family subjects. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.... Read more

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Comments (17)

Adult written by pamela_hendrix

its so good to hear that your you are guiding your kids . i like your the of nurturing your kids through social media, but somehow i guess it was early for the kids to be introduced cause it may have an effect to their behavior. i mean no offense that was just my point of view.. thank you. Purchase Reverbnation Plays
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Adult written by husher123

Hi Good Day! I just read your story in this article and I just realized, the big impact of social media today in our society. We know that social media has a great advantage in our lives most especially in communication. But we must also aware that their is also disadvantages of it, especially in our children or belong to the underage. We must always guide our children when using in it, cause we don't know if it is good or not, for their age. Have look at: get american twitter followers
Parent written by 143Girl

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. Thanks. http://www.asian-retreats.com
Teen, 15 years old written by ILoveParisJaskon

Its okay for kids to be on Facebook as long as they have all there privacy settings on and don't add people they don't know. But I would watch out because there is a lot of creeps and stuff but they wont have to worry about it if they have there privacy settings on.
Adult written by husher123

Hi Good Day! I just read your story in this article and I just realized, the big impact of social media today in our society. We know that social media has a great advantage in our lives most especially in communication. But we must also aware that their is also disadvantages of it, especially in our children or belong to the underage. We must always guide our children when using in it, cause we don't know if it is good or not, for their age. Have look at get american twitter followers
Kid, 10 years old

Little kids shouldn't be on facebook?If there 6-8 they shouldn't be on facebook you don't know what can be on there
Kid, 10 years old

If your daughter wants people to like her on facebook no afence but she cray cray I'm not aload to be on facebook if she is under 18 she shouldn't be on facebook all though I'm 10 I'm much muchore.
Parent written by alia.ali.email@...

Interesting article; It's not just children who want to be "liked" on Facebook. There are some very self obsessed parents around who are also concerned with being "liked" and popular. They tell their children one thing about being aware of strangers online, but they don't think twice about "friending" total strangers all over the place, like it's a badge of honor to have 200, 400 plus, so called, "friends".
Adult written by LSS

As long as parents feel the need to say "Good job" to children, they are not too young to understand the concept of internal and external validation. "Good job" children are conditioned from the very first utterance to seek external validation. At 6 and 8, children know what makes them feel good on the inside and they have a keen moral sense. It's our job, as parents, to continually explain and help them understand the difference between internal and external validation.
Parent written by Matka

I see too many moms wanting to be "liked" for their pretty uninteresting photos. Is it just me or is it just too much crap that we are expected to "like" on FB? I really don't "like" the random/blah stuff other people show. I want to hit a button that says "who cares". I don't need recognition from an aquaintance to tell me that I look good. Unless you're inspiring others to do more for the world as a whole....just spend time with your kids....period.
Adult written by guthrie4

I agree with what you've written here. I strongly believe that kids under the age if 18 should not even be allowed of Facebook. I know that may sound harsh, but there are more stories of cyber bullying and kids getting their 'self confidence' from such things as 'likes' on Facebook! I don't think it's helping our kids at all, in fact I think it's damaging their self image!
written by Amalthea

My two daughters are aware of Facebook; however, since my husband and I are not on it so much, we share an account (neither of us is on enough to warrant our own). They know that we share certain photos and events, but it's not a competition. Of course, we don't have a lot of followers - just over 100. I show the girls posts and pictures that they may enjoy (hey, I like cute cat videos as much as the next person) and comments that relate to them, but that's all. We also limit their online time, and they use "Kidzui", which I HIGHLY recommend.
Parent written by MAmommyoffive

I may not have the opinion of the masses, but my sons were born 21-23 years ago when technology was booming! Nintendos, gamecubes, and then texting as they grew. I totally think my oldest child was literally " addicted"to electronics. TV and or video games of ANY KIND. He was emotionally stunted and had a very hard time with conversation with real people, instead of sims. While this whole area was quite fresh for us we had to limit alot of what was happening outside the house from coming in. That meant spyware immediately on our computer which emailed me and my husband when the computer was on, what site and the password and it updated when he changed sites or every thirty minutes. I was having issues with his homework all of a sudden "it has to be typed" and then I'd walk out of the room and boom www.nakednews.com. When they were still young the deal was that I had to be their friend so I could see what was going on, still didnt stop them. My sons language on Facebook was horrid. Then it was on mine. He literally texted all day what and where he was? I'm eating breakfast, I'm going to take a shower, I'm going to work, I'm getting gas? What's the point. Virtually he was blossoming but socially it was a completely different story. As my 10 year old triplets are coming of age, they obviously know about all of it, more than I do! My 10 year old daughter is showing me how to add photos to my contacts who call. We regulate it very closely and still have spyware, which they do not know. It's sneaky, but my oldest stole my house key and tried to have a huge party at my home when we were out of the country, he couldn't go because of school and when we changed our mind and encouraged him to come he went out of his way to thank us etc, "but I'm a freshman and school is super important right now,". (should have known then). Long story short, my husbands phone rings saying that our home computer is turned on and he logged into FACEBOOK and announced it to all 954 friends that we were gone for the week and he was home alone with booze... Oh and bring girls". It was like knowing a car accident was just about to happen and you just have to watch. We locked our house up like Fort Knox but he "forgot his jacket" and ran back in at the last second and grabbed my key. We made calls from Aruba to my sister and neighbor and luckily saved a huge disaster. But it goes to show people how crazy and far things can go. I also had a girl my one son dated sending him inappropriate pics of her on his phone. Little did he know that was a crime to distribute underage (16) porn. Thank god he never sent it around to people, but he could have. Just having it was illegal especially taking it to school. They are children and even though they look like adults they still biologically do not have it in their brain capacity to made certain judgements and foresee what an action could look like further down the line. We have strict guidelines on all electronics like an electronic curfew. Everything off one hour before bed. To give their brains time to relax. Also no TV or video games on a school night. There just is no time. Between play dates and sports, library, store for food etc it's reserved for weekends and sometimes I'd let the kids watch a special program or sporting event. iPods are very tricky, but we are the only ones who know the password so all apps go through mom or dad. I know my sister and friend let their kids play with their phones when we go to lunch, shopping, in the car or just hanging around. They think I'm mean and my kids are some how deprived, but I do let my kids stay in 2013 but I don't want a robot for a child. I'd like a family that can talk at dinner or a restaurant, instead of everyone with their own pocket whatever and silence! Just me no judgements.
Parent written by mom4girls

I agree with the previous comment - no one under 17 should be on fb. You're only setting yourself up for more problems. It might not be the most popular idea with your kids, but the best decisions never are. Kids are going to keep on texting, tweeting and going on fb unless we as parents take action to change it and let kids be kids again.

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