Social Media Policy: Family Needs One too

Might a social media policy be the next major requirement for families?

See end of article for sources and quoted works

For once, I would like to deviate from corporate and events social media. Let us look at social media and how it impacts families. By default, social media is designed for society. Friends and family are the primary targets of social media sites. It is for this reason that corporate organizations came into the space to try and sell a few items, and we have to admit that a few are doing very well. Social Media is a hybrid element of the promotion and marketing mix. It enables companies to talk to their customers, and customers to talk to each other directly. For the family, social media is something else.

In matters relating to family and friends on social media, one has to keep in mind that the internet is not very good at the forgetting game. What you post on social media will most likely get cached away somewhere. A screenshot may be taken or a tweet may be archived by some site.

People are also able to keep up with you and document what you are doing via your postings on social media. What are the repercussions of all these actions?

 

  1. Release of information leading to security breaches. When you tell the world that you are leaving for a holiday, or going away for several days, do not blame the police for laxity if thieves break into your house. Some insurance companies have updated their home insurance policies to the effect that you will not get compensated for losses that occur if you had indicated on social media that you will not be at home.
  2. Difficulty to restart. Yeah, memories again. When life does not go your way and you want a restart somewhere along the way, content that you posted to social media may come back to haunt you.
  3. Memories that some people may rather forget. There are a few incidents in our lives which we all prefer to forget. Deaths and divorces make it to the top of that list. Imagine a relative innocently posting a throwback photo of themselves with you, but in the background is your dearly departed spouse or parent!
  4. Possible lawsuits in the future. Social media experts and consultants will advise you a little strongly against posting photos of your children onto social media. Will more power being given to our sons and daughters, one might decide to say that you took an unauthorized photo of them and caused them distress or subjection to ridicule by posting it on social media.
  5. Family break ups. In extreme cases, partners have found out they are being cheated on via social media. Others have found their lives publicized unknowingly. If your partner and children do not exactly approve of their photos and stories being shared on social media, kindly respect their wishes.
  6. Good old family rivalry and differences between family members. Haha. So you could not attend my birthday party but you managed to party all night in some exclusive holiday getaway? Yeah, we are friends on Facebook. And I also saw the son of my neighbor at home has a new car. They must be doing pretty well at work. Maybe the guy got a recent promotion. This is information that is very easy to find on social media, and different parties can interpret it the context of any of their twisted ways.

Is social media in the family space all evil?

Understand that despite all these things that can go wrong, social media can still be a valuable avenue for family unity and togetherness. In this aspect, think of the soldier who is away at war, the sister studying abroad, the father on holiday with your mom and that favorite niece who baked a cake for you on your birthday. You can use private messages, closed groups and other avenues on social media to keep in touch with all these people. Social media closed the distance gap in such cases. There are even social media sites that are targeted to, and designed for families.

It is clearly evident that the tech-savvy family today needs a social media policy. Such a policy should be formulated with the various needs of the family on social media. It should not be too restrictive, but should provide enough guidance on what can go onto social media and the internet in general. I think it would be a fun activity to sit down as a family and craft a social media policy. Such a sitting would also serve as a platform to teach your children about safe internet practices.

In the classic case of social media being put to sensible use in a family setup, extended families use social media to organize get-together parties. They also utilize the power of social media to mobilize in the event of ceremonies and other important family events. Facebook is very good at this. Other internet-based communication apps such as WhatsApp which do not exactly fit the bill of social media also come into play. For inclusiveness, complement family activity on social media with other offline channels of communication. This ensures that the family members who are not tech-savvy are kept in the loop.

Cited works:
  1. Social Media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. W. Glynn Mangold, David J. Faulds. Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Available on www.sciencedirect.com/
  2. Mashable article on Social Media networks for Families

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