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Social Media, Parenting and (Lack of) Common Sense

I was running around Facebook, as I frequently do throughout the day, when I came across a business page running a contest. Nothing odd there, right? Lots of businesses run contests and incentives to increase their traffic and number of “likes”.

Except this one was different. This Facebook page was for a medical practice that caters to pediatrics.

“So what?” you may say.

Here’s what.

This is the post from the page:

Support your child and their school today by entering them into our  ______ CONTEST! To enter, simply post your child’s name, along with the name of their school. The school with the most entries will win $1,000 for their school! The runner up will win $500 for their school!

Did you catch that? The page was asking for not only the names of the kids but where they went to school.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the parents were doing it! There were entries upon entries upon entries of parents who not only gave up their kids names, but they also where the kids went to school.  The only thing they didn’t do is offer up their kids schedules.

There they were… parents who wouldn’t dream of leaving their child alone or drive around the block without a 5 point harness system were offering their kids safety up all for the chance of winning $1,000 for their schools. Yes it was a nice gesture to give some school $1,000 but seriously? Could we not figure out some other way to collect information than pimping our kids and the names of their schools out?

I don’t fault the parents entirely. A serious finger wagging and “shame on you” goes to the business owner for not thinking this one through. As a marketing professional and consultant I truly hope there wasn’t a self proclaimed “guru” at the helm of this brilliant plan because if so, I would not hesitate to hunt them down and read the riot act.

It honestly all boils down to this…

Think twice and then once again before you offer up your information.  Don’t get me wrong.. I have slipped a couple of times myself. Just last week I tweeted a photo that included my address and didn’t even notice it until a kind, fellow tweeter pointed it out to me. I immediately removed it but who knows how far it traveled in those 3 minutes. My husband checked into our kids school on Foursquare… once. After I pointed out to him that the entire world (okay.. 58 followers isn’t the entire world but still) knew where our kids went to school, it wasn’t long before he quit checking in to anywhere.

Social Media is fun and at this point, it’s a way of life for most.  But we have to remember that we’re getting these services for free because these sites know one thing.  They know that we’re going to offer up a wealth of information and that they in turn, can mine and store that info until they need it a later time.  It’s one thing to “like”  the Crest page because you love whitening strips but quite another to “like” your kids doctors office and give 800 Million users the intimate details such as their names and where they go to school.

The bigger lesson here is to watch what you post, watch where you check in and if your kids are using social media watch what they’re doing every step of the way.

What “travesties” have you seen along the way in social media? Have you done something that you immediately knew you shouldn’t have?

Kristen
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