Tag Archives: Social Media And Teenagers

What I've learnt since reaching my 50s

Just being Mum

It is another school week and the start of the final school term as we begin the countdown to the summer holidays.A life less fulfilled

Time appears to be the common thread that runs through the blogs I write.

My eldest, shortly to be eighteen will, with everything crossed, head to University in October.

My eldest step son and his wife are expecting their first baby in October.

It is ironic that as one leaves to start a new chapter as a grown up a new life will be born into the world and the growing up process starts over.

The time we get to spend with our children seems so short.

Zero to eighteen gone in an instant, a flash before your eyes, from baby onesies to torn and skinny jeans.

Good old days, nostalgia what does it mean to you?I am anxious and excited at the anticipated arrival of a newborn into our family.

As a fifty plus parent I feel like I’m starting over, but this time, it isn’t my baby and I can hand him or her back at the end of the day.

I am older, wiser and have had greater life experiences.

The lessons I’ve learnt are plentiful and I have much to pass on and share with my step daughter but I will not give out advice unless asked.

I have learnt that as a woman and a mother shelling out advice whether asked for or not is destined to failure.

Celia, a very good friend of mine told me this; ‘the best advice I can give you, is don’t give any advice, that way you can’t be blamed for the fall out if it goes wrong’.

But what if your children ask for help or advice, that is different she says,’ because if they are asking it’s because they either need genuine help and are prepared to listen, if they then choose not to follow it then it can’t come back and bite you’.

Wise words that I have followed except when it comes to my own children whom I can’t help but tell rather than advise what they should do.

I do tell my boys is to listen to their Mother embracing her little girl before leaving to workinstincts; that gut feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when they are pondering over a decision.

As a mum you learn as you go along not really registering the importance of what you are learning until out pops this information when you least expect it.

You become very good at talking to yourself; you can often find me in a store toilet muttering to myself reminders not to forget certain things. Other fellow mothers nod their heads and empathise, we are comrade in arms.

Motherhood definitely has some kind of biological effect on our brains, you can remember all the school activities for the week or term for that matter but as soon as you step into Tesco you forget the very thing you came in for.

It is a fact of life that being an experienced and older mother means you end up sitting on a plane with an infant screaming its face off only for the poor twenty plus mother to look at you beseechingly to take her child and have it sat on your lap for the rest of flight.

Am I really the holy baby shrine capable of soothing this crying baby?

Miraculously the wailing stops and everyone on the plane sighs with relief, the poor mother orders another gin and tonic, thank you, she says relieved.

Motherhood miraculously gives you a handful of wisdom way beyond your years, capable of solving all problems it seems, including climate change.

In reality we are all making it up as we go along and who determines what makes a great mother?

What I've learnt since reaching my 50s

With books, websites and online forums depicting the perfect family, career and children, we can easily feel that we must be bad mothers because we don’t have a glamorous hair do or primed manicured nails, ‘super mom’ more like ‘poor mom’.

And because you failed to to make it to that football match because the train got stuck at Watford or you missed the school play at 4:30pm due to your meeting running overtime, you’re in big trouble.

Any missed event goes down in the book of no shows, and children very rarely forget it.

Parental judgement is one of the worst afflictions of being a parent, what to wear on your feet let alone body can mean the difference between being seen as cool and relevant by your thirteen year old or a fuddy duddy boring mother.

So, not a lot of pressure being a mother then?

Accepting the fact that as mothers we can’t in actual fact have it all, home, career and children, some things have gotta give and perfect parenting and motherhood is one of them.

There are always the reminders of the failures of being a mum even though you do your best to give your children time, love and your all.

Sometimes you just have to accept that perfection is unachievable but being a loving, caring and giving mum is more important than anything else.

And when my thirteen year old old tells me he loves me because, “well, you’re just mum” it is  the most wonderful feeling in the world.







the internet of things

The internet of things

Last week I had lunch with one of my long term supplier’s we’ve known and worked with each other for over 20 years and we thought it would be nice to have a catch up. 

During our lunch we ruminated over how technology is impacting our business, which is the business of print? Online print

Strange thing technology?

In less than ten years we have gone from mobiles to smartphones capable of delivering complex tasks at a touch or a swipe.

Digital technology has reshaped our lives forever.

We laughed at how we use to do things.

Faxes were used to proof text and positioning, but mostly, proofs would be run out in colour and sent via mail to the customer.

Quotes were typed using electronic typewriters and then faxed or sent by post, the biggest change was the introduction of the PC which changed everything when it came to the form design process.

cellphonesThere were no emails for communication it was either fax or, you would make a call which was invariably quicker.

The phone call would inevitably lead to more work, an appointment or lunch.

In fact the business of print was largely transacted in the pub over a pie and a pint.

Who does lunch anymore?

Mobile phones offered a major breakthrough in communications for sales reps.

There was no need to find a phone box or ask the receptionist at the company you were visiting if you could quickly make a call.

Life was simple and less fraught.Memory Lane in Sepia

Digital technology has done more than affect the gadgets we now take for granted, it has changed the way we work.

BYOD (Bring your own device) is a great example how we now interact with the world.

Sharing information has never been easier from social media, print, cloud and multi-channel we live on the super fast highway overflowing with content, ideas, and innovations.

You can look up anything on google and the search will return any number of suggestions.

If you want or need to find out something, or want to understand how a component works, google it and up pops the answer.

We have become intolerant of anything analogue a slow PC or laptop, poor broadband or a 4G connection is enough to make me want to throw my laptop against a wall such is my limited patience in this fast paced world of ours.

I demand speed and access and I want it now.

Compare the speed with which emails can be pinged to the time when we sent faxes or compare SD to HD television?

Mobile devicesThe impact of these technological changes cannot be underestimated and we take it for granted that ‘it just works’.

Our smartphones now have more processing power than the average PC giving us more speed so we can get things done quicker.

Remember when estimated delivery dates were just that ‘estimated’ in the pre-digital world customers were happy to accept an approximate delivery.

In our digital world we order online and we demand definitive delivery schedules.

Speed and technological progress for consumers has resulted in our demands and expectations being higher and as companies have offered an even better level of service so our expectations have risen accordingly.

Digital media, online accessibility has had a huge impact on our lives making content, ordering online and searching easy.

Imagine the perversity of not actually being chained to our gadgets?

My supplier colleague said she isn’t on Facebook refuses to chatter on Twitter and uses her mobile phone for just that, making calls.

I marvelled at how she didn’t feel in the least bit FOMO, (fear of missing out) after all bad news does have a tendency to get to you quicker as indeed good news, ‘so why do I need to be chained to my phone’, she exclaimed.

The internet probably took ten years to become an essential and basic tool for our everyday life and I wonder how the world would look without its existence.

No cloud storage for data, photos and music on the go.

Future technological innovations will happen a lot faster and whilst Facebook is now considered prehistoric with Snapchat and Instagram taking over what will be the next app that we can’t live without?

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 50bn internet enabled devices (Ericsson, Vision 2020, 50 billion connected devices, Feb. 2011) Those devices will become interconnected into a web of the ‘internet of things’.

A future where an ‘intelligent fridge’ can self replenish by ordering online.

The rise in digital channels has generation Y permanently plugged in to their online world.

They are already part of the acceleration of the new digital world.

Social media conceptThey are influencing the development of technologies around them they are changing their lifestyles to fit around the ever advancing world of technology and they will not accept any brand, social media channel or organisation they work for who don’t do the same.

If a social media platform or web site doesn’t satisfy their needs they will quickly explore and exploit another.

They are a generation that understand what it is to collaborate online, how to interact on social media, they are digitally and globally aware and understand the power of being connected.

Because of them they are dictating the speed of future digital communications and are developing different social behaviours that will be transmitted to future generations.

I love new technology and, I can’t live without it. I’m always looking at the latest gadget trying to justify why I should buy it and, if I can use it.

There is downside to digitisation.

I was saddened to hear my elder son talk about his dislike of reading books. Why I asked; ‘because I lose interest after a few chapters’.

He has a lot of contextual reading for A level study part of the process of acquiring the knowledge needed for the subjects.

One night he said he was going to bed early, a first in my lifetime, and I suggested he read a book rather than listen to music.

‘Why do I want to read’ he said, my eyes furrowed, ‘because you get lost in a book, it helps you relax makes your fall asleep before bed and it is one of the greatest forms of relaxation’.

I am lost in books and I try to imagine how the ending will turn out, tempting as it is to read the end.  

But I hold out to find out how the story unfolds. I love the use of language and words and, when the world is collapsing around me I find my escape in reading.

One of my resolutions this year was to read more books and so far I am doing well I’m on my fifth I am aiming to read one a month, often I have two or three on the go.

It is almost perverse owning a book while online is accepted as the norm.

I am disappointed that I have been unable to pass on my love of reading to my children but, it is a changing world and I am reminded of one of my favourite all time sci-fi movie franchises ‘The Terminator’.

A stark reminder that if technology continues gathering pace at the speed it is, enjoying the simple things in life like reading may well be confined to the annals of history.

As our world becomes solely reliant on new technologies, we could forget that the simple things in life are often the sweetest.



Social media and teenagers?

We all think we know everything there is to know about social iStock_000022436179Smallmedia after all, most of us spend some time either on facebook, twitter, instagram or a combination of some or more of the social networks. 

Many parents are concerned about social media and teenagers, how to manage what their teens are doing when they are on social media.

It’s hard enough being a parent in 2015 and then factor in the allure of social media and the need for always being connected and no wonder we fret over the safety of our children.

I have friends who have absolutely no interest in social media whatsoever and others who spend a large part of their day posting updates whether it is for personal or business use.

DeathtoStock_Medium6I am also a parent that worries about the impact of technology on our children and what the long term effects are.

With all this pressure of wanting to do the right thing and living in a constant state of fear for our childrens safety, it would be easier to turn your back, pretend that social media is no big deal and assume that our children are safe.

The fact of the matter is, social media is a big black gaping hole and if you are not careful it’s very easy to fall into it without understanding the good and the bad.

As a parent of two I do remind my boys about the implications of posting an emotional outburst on Facebook; for every action there is a consequence, I have tried to drill this into them as part of their upbringing.

At least once a month I come back with posts I’ve read on the DeathtoStock_Medium10internet about teenagers falling foul, befriended by undesirables or suspended from school because of some ‘harmless’ messaging between two pupils over a teacher they disliked.

Whilst I can point out the pitfalls of social media I can’t always protect them so I try to share my knowledge and show them how I use social media in the hope that they do understand and use it carefully and wisely.

This is not a ‘how to post’ but rather an insight into how I’ve worked with my boys who are 15 and 11 years and what I’ve tried to do to ensure their safety on the internet and social media.

iStock_000017041643SmallWhen I found out that my eldest son had set up his facebook account at the tender age of 12 to say I was unimpressed would be way off the mark.

His response was ‘I will be thirteen in five months.’

But that’s not the point.

Facebook’s algorithms enable them to display adverts and messages suitable for the age of the user so in my case, adverts that are relevant to me according to gender, likes, age and background will pop up as adverts.

This information is obtained once you’ve consented to setting up your account.  From that information facebook know your age, background, your likes and this in turn creates a profile of you which can then be used by facebook to display advertisements.

After I had discovered why my son had gone ahead and violated the terms of facebook’s age of consent, I asked him why he did it?

Apologetically he explained that his friends had accounts and he didn’t want to miss out.

It was also FOMO the fear of missing out and I’ve talked about that here.

The downside of him being on facebook at that age was that he wasn’t emotionally mature to deal with often harmless but pointed comments, there were times when he was upset because someone had poked fun at him or had uninvited him to a party – the usual stuff that besets hormonally charged teenagers.

After a six month period where I had to enforce a time restriction, the allure factor waned and he spent less time and reserved his updates and online time for the weekend.

That was three years ago and now he uses it fairly infrequently. At the time he succumbed to massive peer pressure and felt the need to be part of the crowd.

Having the knowledge made me less fearful than if I had no idea of how it all works. When I chat about what I’ve been doing on social media, or posts I find interesting I share them with my boys.

My feeling is that knowledge is power so if I can share as much with them they will reciprocate. I also want them to feel that they can come to me if they get into trouble unwittingly through a rogue comment or being tagged.

Teenagers are fearful if they are caught doing something wrong and the natural thing is not to tell parents because they feel shame, they worry about having their phones or tablets confiscated so it’s easier to keep quiet.

We are all busy parents and if you know they are safe indoors interacting with friends online it’s the easy option to leave them without really understanding what they might be doing.

Social media communication conceptNew technologies have always created fears because we don’t understand what the benefits are and it is easier to deride social media as something bad and not look for the positives.

But like any kind of parenting, moderation is a good example for children, if they see you staring at the phone or tablet then they are brought up thinking this is the norm. If they never see you reading a newspaper or a book how can they be expected or encouraged to do the same?

I have put together my list of handy tips that I think have helped with my children when it comes to social media:-

  1. Invite them to show you what games they are playing and play a game with them so you understand how it works even if it is mind blowingly dull or involves shooting people it is an opportunity to understand, connect and share your thoughts without them feeling you are invading their privacy. The same for social media get them to show you what they are doing and if you are also on social media share with them what you do as well.
  2. Ask them to show YOU things that you might not know. I learnt something about instagram the other day that I genuinely didn’t know. It’s a great way of saying that you are interested in what they are doing.
  3. Speak to them about ‘porn’. It’s the dreaded word in the english dictionary but we can’t brush it aside. Before they go online, explain they might see nasty images or graphic content that way you are helping them understand why you might be worried for them.
  4. Set time limits – I’m a big advocate of this and I have been known to remove a phone or tablet for a week if I feel one of them is putting instagram or facebook before homework. I suggest to them that if they want to go online they do it when they’ve finished homework and I agree with them a time limit of no more than 30 minutes, I then set a timer on my iphone so it reminds me to then make sure that they’ve stuck to the time limit.
  5. Who should they be friends with? I tell my children that being ‘friends’ only with friends is probably the best way to start. I network a lot and connect with people on Linkedin but I dont ‘friend’ them on facebook, they are not friends and so why would I? It’s the same for them, if in doubt I ask them how do you know this person, have you met them and are you likely to go out with each other in the future if the answer is no then don’t connect. Unless there is a good reason too. An example of this can be a person you don’t know liking a photo on instagram and then inviting you join their group on facebook or google plus. Your teenager might find themselves in an undesirable or unsuitable group.
  6. Ask to follow them or ‘friend’ them. There is a tendency to think that children don’t want us to know what they are doing, what they share and who they are doing it with but it doesn’t mean they want privacy from you. My boys regularly text their grand-parents in fact they taught them how to text.  If they are in school they can’t make calls. Seven out of ten people have parents as friends on facebook so why not just ask them, if they say no explain why you want to be connected with them, if they say no again then respect their wishes.
  7. Teach them the consequences if they post illegal or illicit content – once it’s posted it can’t be deleted or retrieved. Help them  understand that this might come back on them later in life when they are looking for a job, it will help them think before they write.
  8. Bullying is a no ono. It’s tempting for your child if they are being bullied at school to use social media as a means of getting back at the bully, don’t. Firstly they can unfriend or unfollow and secondly you can inform the school to get something done about it.
  9. Never say bad things about teachers or anyone for that matter – as tempting as it is, if they are having a bad time with a teacher or they’ve been told off, it is very tempting to share how you feel about that teacher with friends. Don’t let them.
  10. Finally teach them the positives of social media staying in touch with friends that move away, learning and sharing ideas and that it can a really fun and great way to be connected with people.

There is more that can be added to the list and I also know that you can do all or some of the above and they will still act hastily but at least by talking with them and understanding what they are doing it alleviates some of the worry of what they could be doing whilst you’re downstairs having that coffee or glass of wine.