Tag Archives: social media

Why did I let my daughter have a Facebook account?

You need to be sure your child is old enough for Social Media....

You need to be sure your child is old enough for Social Media….

Are you not a fan of Facebook?

Not really. It’s a useful part of our communication system. We can reach friends around the world (as ex-pats, that’s very important) and we can also trade messages with friends when cell-phones aren’t to hand or convenient. But I keep being reminded that Facebook isn’t there for my convenience – if it were, I would have to pay for it.

Do you have this attitude with all Social Media? Twitter? G+? Tumblr?

To some degree. As a writer, I’m keen to use whatever methods I can to promote my work, and these days Social Media is the best way to reach people. But Twitter doesn’t bombard me with adverts, and G+ is serving a different function for me than Facebook – it’s not for general conversation and swapping photos, it’s a place where I meet other writers, people I don’t already know.

So why let your daughter get a Facebook account?

The basic answer is because she asked. Her friends use Facebook and she was curious about it. We talked it over with her, showed her what a Facebook account looks like, what to watch out for, and let her think about it. After two weeks, she was still interested, so we signed her up.

Are you worried?

Well, yes. Facebook is an aggressive environment. They’re trying to earn money for their shareholders, and the protections available for users are manipulated on a regular basis to make it easier for the company to harvest personal information and target advertising. My daughter is bright, but she’s also a key demographic – just beginning to earn money for herself, growing a circle of friends and interested in the world of media. If the hooks get set in her now, she could be milked for cash for the rest of her life.

Yuck. So why not say no?

We have, for a couple of years. However, Social Media isn’t going away. It’s going to evolve and change, but it’s a part of the world my daughter is growing up in. Cars probably kill more people each year than Social Media, but it’s better to teach your kid to drive than expect them to rely on public transport for the rest of their lives. Yes, signing her up for Facebook felt a little like booking her a cabin on the Titanic, but it’s a good place to begin. She can learn to manipulate Facebook, to keep as much of herself hidden from the advertisers as possible, to screen who she adds to her friends list, to consider what she posts before she presses that button.

What, specifically, did you warn her against?

We tried the old adages. Never post anything you don’t think is necessary, true or kind. Never post anything about anyone you wouldn’t say to their face. If you’re talking direct to a friend, do it in a message,  not a post. Don’t add people as friends just because you know them or know of them.

Aren’t you worried she’ll spend hours wasting time on Facebook?

No, because we still govern her access. Without her own computer and no internet access through her phone, she has to use the PC. And her time on that is already monitored and restricted by the fact that it’s the work machine for the house.

Is it really that important for her?

Right now she wants a Facebook account because she thinks it’ll be a fun thing to have. However, these days it’s unthinkable that someone wouldn’t have an email address, whereas ten years ago you could’ve gotten by without one. In five years time, Social Media and portable computing, smartphones and wireless will have collided to the extent that a social media presence will be as inevitable as a phone number or email. At the moment we’re all concerned that nothing on the internet ever goes away, but in a few years you’ll NEED to have an internet persona because it will affect every other aspect of your life.

Er…you’re sounding a little weird. Do you have any evidence for that?

Sorry. No, I’m extrapolating from available data*. But it’s a fair guess. Five years ago saw the launch of the iPad, and now millions of people use tablets in their everyday life. People update Social Media from their phones, adding their location without thought, giving verdicts on everything from music to shopping and restaurant experiences, things that influence other people to a startling degree. “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t a best seller because it’s a brilliantly written story. (Sorry, it’s not. And yes, I really do know.)

Should other people let their children have Facebook accounts?

Other people do, obviously. What other people ought to do…Well, I think they ought to make sure they can monitor their child’s use of Social Media until the child reaches their majority. If your kid has a smartphone with a data plan that they use to run their Social Media account, it’s very important that you’re in their friends list to know what’s being said. On the other hand, I don’t think it’ll be long before Facebook adopts the G+ model allowing people to easily post to specific groups within their Facebook friends, cutting out parents automatically.

But I think it’s important that parents understand social media is here to stay, and learning to use social media is important, or it’ll use you. Help your child go in with their eyes open and shields up.

 

*making it up

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Why not be sociable?

Screen grab from my G+ circles page. If you don't know what that means, read on.....

The urge to moan about my lack of output or success in the job market is growing, so I thought I’d side-step it and talk about Social Media instead.

I’m not a guru. I can’t tell you how to “do” Social Media, and I can’t promise you that I’ll get Social Media to increase your sales, your popularity or your productivity.

What I can say is that I enjoy interacting with other people through Social Media, and the Social Media I prefer is G+. I’m sorry, Facebook friends, but most of the time when you’re talking to me or getting comments from me on Facebook, it’s Mrs Dim. Facebook has been brilliant for staying in touch with friends from the UK, and it’s a great standby if someone hasn’t handed out their email address. When Mrs Dim was away recently, we even used it to message each other, which looked very bizarre to other people, since we both used the same login….

Anyway, I was invited to join G+ during the Beta phase and found it was fun. At first it was quiet, with few users, but I added some interesting folks to my circles and things started to move. In G+ you have circles for different groups of people, and you can post things to a single circle, or all your circles, or just to the public….and you can do the same with the things you see. What appears is called your stream, and you can set it to receive a lot of things from particular circles, and not much from others, or just leave them all open all the time, like I do.

I’ve been quite cautious about who I’ve added to my circles, meaning I’m only in contact with around 400 people. That’s still a lot of content rushing past every day. In turn, only around 200 people have ME in THEIR circles, so I’m not filling the whole internet with my ramblings. What that small grouping means is that I can actually converse with these people, swap ideas and stories, read what they’ve got to say and maybe pass it along.

I’ve learned a great deal from G+, from reading articles reposted by friends, following links to other websites, and I’ve made some good friends. Yes, friends.

Some people have the opinion that friends are only friends if you’ve met them face to face. But these are people I chat to every day. I may not know a great deal about them – in some cases, I don’t even know their real names – but I know I like chatting to them. They don’t ask me creepy questions about my kids, they don’t try to find out my address, my phone number or bank details, and we share a lot of interests. When I need an opinion on something, like my new e-book, I can ask these people. They don’t have the need, like real-life friends do, to say nice things to me because someday we’ll be having dinner together. In turn, I’ve been asked to offer advice on THEIR stories, or pictures, or projects.

This is the key with social media, or so I’ve heard. Not building a huge following and broadcasting your ‘stuff’ to them on a regular basis. No, the idea is to build relationships by talking to people, getting to know them a little, and giving them some of your time and attention. It’s only fair, after all.

I know that some of the 200 people who have me in their circles, have LOTS more people following them than I do. Thousands and thousands, in some cases. If I post news of my new project and one of them is kind enough to repost it, it can be seen by thousands of readers instead of hundreds. If some of them repost it, it could reach hundreds of thousands. That’s the connecting power of social media, but it means nothing if YOU don’t connect with the people first.

5 things you should know about working from home

When this was all I did, I kept EVERYTHING to hand

I’ve been thinking a lot about working from home recently. Partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I work, and partly because my friend Lucy sent me this: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home That made me laugh, but it’s all true.

I’ve told the story of my becoming a full-time writer many times in this blog, and if you’ve read through my back-posts, you’ll have seen me go back to being a part-time writer. Now I feel it’s more important than ever that I capitalise on my chances to work from home. I keep the thought of going back to working full-time at home as my ultimate goal.

Five Things You Should Know About Working From Home

  1. It may not be for you. Sorry to be blunt, but it isn’t easy. And there’s two parts to that. It isn’t easy to be productive in the home environment, and it isn’t easy to find a job that’ll let you work from home in the first place. Yes, people will sell you books explaining how telecommuting is changing the face of the workplace, but I dare you to go ask your boss if you can work from home. He’s likely to say “For god’s sake, you’re a Zoo Keeper! How are you going to feed the lions? Facebook?” Ok, he’ll only say that if you’re a zookeeper, but I bet he doesn’t agree.
  2. Working in your pyjamas isn’t as much fun as you might think. No, really. I see this used as a justification all the time. Folks saying “I used to have to wear power suits every day, and now I sit at the computer in my pyjamas and make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!”. For one thing, unless you’ve got a computer in your pyjamas, that sentence is grammatically incorrect. For another, how businesslike are you going to feel, in your pyjamas? I once had to do a serious interview with a genuine TV personality. She returned my call unexpectedly early, and I found it hard to remain detached and focussed on taking notes because I was in my dressing gown while talking to Charlie Dimmock. By the way, she doesn’t know this, so please don’t tell her. One traumatised person is enough.
  3. It can be lonely. Just run through in your head how many people you talk to every day at work. Even if you hate the people you work with, can you imagine spending the day alone? You like the thought of that? What about the next day? And the next. And the next. Every day, just you and your PC, only communicating with others by phone or email. You will find yourself cruising Facebook, looking for live users to chat to for the pure human interaction. Well, that’s my excuse. If you find yourself on You Tube looking at kittens, give it up.
  4. An unstructured day can be unhealthy. Now I know that some of you can spend waaay too long in the office. One of Mrs Dim’s first bosses had his desk next to the front window and would always be visible in his office until seven or eight, his face glowing in the light from his monitor. Turned out he was playing Solitaire most of the time, and he ended up having a heart attack at his desk. What was my point? Hang on. *pause* Oh, yeah. even if you like to hang it on at the end of the work day, there are little clues to keep you in the regular rhythm of work. You probably can’t get into the office before 6am. You see everyone else going to lunch between 11am and 3pm (FROM 11am to 3pm if you work in advertising) so you know it’s lunchtime. And at some point they’ll turn off the lights and lock the doors so the cleaners can get to work. If you’re childless and working from home, who’s going to regulate YOUR working day? You are, that’s who. So if you let lunchtime slide because you’re on a roll, or start working at five in the morning, no one’s going to stop you. But no one’s going to make you go outside either, no one’s going to make you take a break, make you eat something. There are days I go outside to collect the weasels from school and I am surprised by the sunshine. If the light’s bright outside, I close the blinds so I can see the words on the screen, and then four hours later I step out the front door….It’s a wonder I don’t disintegrate into a pile of ashes.
  5. People won’t believe you’re working. If you’re a parent returning to the work environment via working from home, the chances are you’ll know other parents who aren’t out at work all day. They may well believe it’s ok to drop in on you at coffee time (read: any time their kids are at school/playgroup/college/scoring dope) and talk your ears off while you’re wondering if your partner will be angry there’s no money coming in from your business today. If you’re at HOME, you’re not at WORK, folks, no matter how fancy your home office is. If you’re working, don’t answer the door. If you answer the door, don’t blame me.

Slightly less clutter, slightly more productivity in slightly less time

So now I’m trying to empower my business, big up my personal brand, claim my webvibe and…you know, earn some money. Today (and I still can’t believe I did this) I decided to take some positive steps towards increasing sales of my e-book (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) and so I went online and discovered the excellent blog by Kristen Lamb . I followed her advice and bought her e-book ‘We are not alone“. Yes, read that bit again. I wanted to promote my e-book, so I went out and bought an e-book. Should I just have sent myself that  money? All will be revealed when I have read through “We are not alone” and followed the advice within. If I can consolidate my social media platforms and expand my webpresence without losing my grip on my brand….I’ll be very surprised.