THE BLOG
02/13/2014 05:19 EST | Updated 04/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Are You Turning Your Child Into a Social Media Monster?

"Strike a pose."

Remember that edict that Madonna pronounced to us so many lifetimes ago?

In the song "Vogue," she challenged us to go big or go home. "Strike a pose" was the battle cry for some heavy-duty showing off, if that's what you want to call it. "Voguing" was the rage and narcissistic vanity was at its core.

Fast forward more than 20 years later and here we are, striking poses like it's nobody's business. This is particularly the case with the younger set -- those in the tween and teen ranges are especially attuned to vain behaviour. The culture of narcissism has been facilitated in large part by those very handy little items that many of us tote around with us every time we leave the house: the smartphone. No longer just a vehicle for making and receiving calls, the ability to take pictures and share them almost instantaneously, has made even the most timid folks into showoffs.

"Look at me at the mall!"

"Here I am in the waiting room at the doctor's office!"

"Check out my style at the grocery store!"

Duck lips abound, faux smiles dominate and a general sense of self-importance is de rigeur in this age of acceptable and often-encouraged vanity.

But to what end?

How much is our collective acceptance and encouragement of narcissistic posing affecting our kids? Are we complicit in raising a whole generation of those who feel that their image is one to be, at minimum -- admired, at best -- adored? Our reliance on documenting every second of our lives -- mundane moments and all -- has become the norm, not the exception, much to our detriment. Our children must surely have a skewed sense of what is truly important as they jockey to get that perfect shot of themselves as they walk down the street.

As parents, we're both shocked and complicit, as we too have become addicted to the allure of social media. Instagram feeds are no longer the sole domain of the younger set and increasingly the over-35 crowd is embracing the urge to document their interesting and not-so-interesting pursuits. The urge to instantaneously share what would have at one time been perceived as "humdrum" is overwhelming. Is it any wonder, then, that our children have no qualms about broadcasting their everyday pursuits to the world, whether said world is interested or not?

We laugh at the vanity and self-absorptions of tweens and teens, all the while ignoring the fact that we ourselves are tweeting, liking, Instagramming and generally sharing portions of our lives that others may find...well...boring. Is it really possible to think that even our closest friends and family want a regular stream of pictures recounting our meals, snacks, grocery store visits and waiting room demeanours in an ongoing feed of monotony?

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and monkeys not only see, but they "do" as well. Aphorisms, perhaps, but realities in this era where smartphone addiction (otherwise known as "Nomophobia") is a very real ill.

While older folks may not have started society's social media obsession, we may, surprisingly, be the ones who are unwittingly facilitating our kids' dependence on it through our own actions and examples. To this end, we should take a long hard look at our social media behaviour and realize that it's not only our children who should put down the smartphone and stop to smell the roses.

This post can also be found at Multiple Mayhem Mamma.

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