Thursday, February 26, 2009

Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Important update for the 218,000 members of the "Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not obscene!" group. Now is the time to further petition against Facebook's removal of your breastfeeding pictures.

Today Mark Zuckerberg announced in the Facebook Blog that they are soliciting feedback from members on the proposed Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Currently, the posting of breastfeeding photos would fall under item 3.6 "You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." Now is the opportune time to request changes to this term. Visit the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to post your objections.

Let's face it - "Youth Moms" on Facebook

*In case you didn't read my most recent post introducing this series, "Youth Mom" is my admittedly lame title for women with children 11 or younger.

After talking to several new moms about Facebook, it appears to be the ultimate time saving tool available for the busy "Youth Mom". "Facebook simplifies parenting," said JB, mother of 2 children aged 5 months and 2 years. When JB had her first child she was not on Facebook but was encouraged to join by other new moms. She held off for a while thinking she did not have the time to waste on it, but once she joined quickly saw that just the opposite was true. "Now I love it," she says. "It allows me to quickly share pictures with everyone that is asking for them, coordinate play groups without 20 calls and texts about scheduling, RSVP to events, get advice from friends that are parents, and to actually have some sense of personal life by staying in touch with friends and colleagues that are not in the same baby crazed mindset that I'm in."

JB's play group has set up a private group on Facebook so they can easily schedule meeting places and times. For moms that are looking to join a play group, a simple search yields hundreds, some private and some public, which they can join to provide interaction for their children and networking with other moms in their area.

On a larger scale, applications have been developed to enable Moms to connect with others around the world. Circle of Moms is one application that offers a social network for moms and soon-to-be moms. It's discussion boards, product reviews and chat functionality attracts over 2,000,000 active users on a monthly basis.

Although Facebook clearly has many mommy fans, they recently caused a massive uprising among thousands of "Youth Moms" by censoring their breastfeeding photos. In December of 2008, over 58,000 people joined together to protest the companies policy of removing breastfeeding photos from the site.

According to an interview with Reuters, Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the website takes no action over most breast-feeding photos but some are removed to ensure the site remains safe and secure for all users, including children. "Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed," he said in a statement.

Kelli Roman, a mother whose photograph of her feeding her daughter was removed by Facebook, started a group called "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" to petition against the companies actions. The group now has 218,855 members that are outraged. View this clip to hear Kelli's take on the issue.

What I find most interesting about this is that 218,000 Facebook users are clearly angry at the company, but yet remain on Facebook to interact about their feelings on the topic. I suppose this is proof enough that the positive benefits that platform offers to Youth Moms, outweigh their disagreement with the company's evaluation of breastfeeding images as explicit material.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let's face it

We've all heard stories or read articles about kids embarrassed or mad that their parents have joined Facebook. Well, we better get used to it. No matter how many "No parents on Facebook" groups are created (already over 500), the fact is the site has changed quite drastically since it was invented 5 years ago for college students.

According to a recent Fortune article "How Facebook is taking over our lives," today the 18-24 crowd makes up less than a quarter of users. The fastest-growing demographic on the site, up 175% since September 2008, is women 55 and older.

Since we know from the Razorfish/CafeMom study that over 65% of moms online are using Facebook, let's face the facts and find out exactly what they are doing there. Over the next several days I'll explore what Youth Moms (kids under 11), Teen Moms (kids 12 - 18), and Empty Nest Moms (kids 18+) are doing on the platform. Check back tomorrow for more...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Digital Moms

Razorfish and CafeMom recently conducted a survey of Digital Moms which shows some interesting findings as to how mainstream digital media has become in this market. Of the 32 million Digital Moms, women with children under the age of 18 that go online, "more interact with social networks (65%) and SMS (56%), than with news sites (51%)." Even more surprisingly 52% are gaming online or via a console.

While the above chart indicates that moms are using a wide range of mainstream and developing media, the age of the mom and the age of the child play a big role in how they use it. The study found that women under 35 use technology more for communicating with friends and strangers with similar interests whereas moms over 45 use it more for information about what is going in the world and what is going on in their child's world. 47% of Digital Moms with a child over the age of 12 that use social networking sites do it to monitor their child's online behavior! (While this seems high, it is significantly lower than the 72% of parents that admitted to spying on their kids' online activity in another study.)

Similarly, the topics of content researched or items purchased online in the last 30 days varies by age. Overall, 40% selected Fashion/Clothing, 31% selected Food/Cooking and 26% selected Baby/Parenting. However, women with children under the age of 5 were significantly more likely to select Baby/Parenting 46%.

This survey highlights some interesting facts about the behavior of moms online, however I think it would be more eye opening to breakdown the data even further by the age of the child to determine at which point of a child's development a mother begins to prioritize herself again. I would assume that among moms of children under the age of 2, the percent that have read or purchased Baby/Parenting items in the last 30 days would increase dramatically and that less than a few percent would have free time to be gaming. From what I've seen, they're too busy running after the toddler or trying to catch up on sleep!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

vlogging vs. blogging

So I finally get the hang of this blogging thing and I now find out that there are people out there vlogging? I had never even heard this term before this week and I just learned that this form of blogging, using video in place of or in addition to text, started in 2000 with Adam Kontras' launch of “The Journey” vlog which captured his experience moving to LA to break into show business. Kontras' vlog picked up a ton of interest and he secured a segment on The Early Show.

Since Kontras introduced this new form of communication, vloggers have been popping up all over the web. They have a conference, award ceremonies and a wide range of absurd concepts. Rolling Stone highlights the success of early blogs such as Ask a Ninja, "in which the host -in full Ninja garb - fields viewer questions.

While we all know that mommy blogging has already become extremely popular, in her blog, Marketing To Moms, expert Maria Bailey, predicts "Mom vloggers will outnumber mommy bloggers by the end of 2009, as moms begin to see the ease of distributing and consuming information through video." Her research shows that 82% of moms have watched 2 or more videos in the last week, versus 35% who have read blogs in the last week. To respond to this trend, in October 2008 teamed up with Flip Video, to create a mommy vlogger network in which moms share video tips on all stages of parenting.

Especially due to my enthusiasm over the Flip, I'd be interested to see a rise in vlogging among moms but it seems there are just over 20 vloggers on, one on, about 2000 results on YouTube for Mom Vlogs and a few more regular mommy vloggers online. I am not certain if Bailey's prediction was simply a PR stunt to promote New Baby or if she actually believes this is the next phase for tech savvy parents but, right now, vlogging does not seem to be even close to having the reach of mommy blogging.

I'll keep an eye out for mommy vlogs of note and, if nothing else, will certainly get a few kicks enjoy watching them try. This one who seems to be just getting started - I'm sure her daughter is thrilled!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's 6:00 pm - Do you know where your children are?

With this morning's news of another missing girl, 5 year old Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings, I am again reminded of the horrifying fact that children across our country are taken from their families everyday. My heart goes out to Haleigh's family and I hope and pray that the search is swift and successful. Amber Alert.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an average of 2000 children are reported missing each day. This statistic is alarming and makes me seriously consider the various technology available to track our children. Some parents may find this appalling but, the fact is, our children could be at risk. Why wouldn't we take advantage of technology that could ensure their safety?

According to Reuters, Mexican security firm, Xega, is now implanting GPS tracking devices into individuals fearful of kidnapping, which has become rampant in several parts of the country. The chip, the size and shape of a rice grain, is injected with a syringe into the arm between the skin and muscle so it cannot be seen. If the person is kidnapped they press a panic button on an external device to alert Xega, the police are notified and the person can be pinpointed via satellite. The company reports 2000 clients have paid the $4,000 upfront fee plus an annual fee of $2,200 to ensure the safety of their family.

For parents looking for security but not interested in Xega's extreme and costly solution, there are other less expensive technologies that can help. For instance, you might be familiar with BrickHouse security through their new advertising campaign in partnership with Duracell.

The device featured in this commercial is the BrickHouse Child Locator which is a Homing Tag which can be attached to a child to alert you when they leave the safety zone and then lead you to their location. This device is $190.

BrickHouse also offers the The Livewire FastTrac, a GPS tracking device with nationwide coverage and a Web-based tracking system so you can watch the movement of the device and even zoom in on the map for an exact location. The Livewire is $400.

If your child already has a cell phone on which they can access GoogleMaps, there is a new solution which is no cost to you. Last week Google announced the launch of Latitude to its mobile maps service. The application enables individuals to share their location with friends and family.

While this application is stirring up some privacy controversy, it could be ideal for parents of young children that can be convinced to "opt-in" to the program. However, once they hit the teen years and want their privacy, it could become a source of tension.

As a new parent living in a huge city, I would like some sense of security but I think the implant is taking it a bit too far. For the $200 investment, I will likely start with the BrickHouse Child Locator to ensure that whether in the park or in the apartment building, I can find my child in a moment's notice.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Flipping out over baby

"Ohh, how cute. Look, honey, he’s drooling!" Every parent thinks every thing their child does is adorable. From the cutest of coos to the grossest of poos, parents that are obsessed with capturing and sharing each of those moments should check out the Flip Mino by Pure Digital. This ultra-chic, super portable and so-easy-to-use-a-child-could-figure-it-out camcorder is becoming a must have for documentarian parents.

My sister-in-law recently received the Flip Mino as a gift and sends adorable videos of my nephew to me in NYC, my parents in Mexico, and her parents in Poughkeepsie. With a built in USB port and built in software, sharing home videos from your Flip is a simple as plugging in to your computer.

According to an article found on RedOrbit, many parents are posting their home videos on YouTube to share with family and friends. "For many parents, YouTube presents a way of sharing the same kind of home movies that families of an earlier generation might have watched together in a living room on holidays or at reunions. The easy-to-share videos connect with grandparents and family members in far away places without chewing up e-mail "inbox" space." Here's one cutey, falling over from laughing too hard.

For those parents who love posting their photos and videos online, the Flip allows you to upload videos instantly to YouTube, MySpace, AOL Video and many other websites, with the click of a button.

However, many parents including fellow blogger Dave Taylor, Author of The Attachment Parenting Blog, are skeptical about having pictures of their children available to the public. That's why Flip's private sharing feature is great. It enables parents to safely send their videos privately to friends and family, and even select greeting cards to personalize a message from baby to that special someone.

What I love most about the Flip is the simple user interface. As you can see in this picture, it only has a few buttons so when you're trying to capture the moment you don't need a manual to get it started. With Record, Play, Delete and Zoom - literally anyone could grab the Flip and record those precious memories.

The size of a cell phone and just over 3 ounces, the Flip can fit right into a pocket, purse or diaper bag and the 2GB of memory and up to 60 minutes of recording time ensures that not a moment is missed. For parents on-the-go who want to stay connected, this is a great piece of technology that is worth a look.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What to Expect

First published in 1984, What to Expect When Your Expecting is one of the most popular pregnancy books on the market. It’s often the first gift a pregnant woman receives and remains a valuable resource throughout pregnancy. While this book does capture much of the information an expecting woman needs to know, what it lacks is the accessibility we have come to demand from our information sources. What happens if in the middle of the night I awake with a sharp pain in my right abdomen? I can run to my What to Expect and thumb through the pages or perhaps check in the index for “Pain”, no “Abdomen”, or, wait, maybe “when to call the doctor?” By this point, I’ve stirred myself up into hysteria and have to read 15 sections related to the topic to find that none are relevant to my particular situation.

As a tech savvy mother-to-be, I can take an alternate route to quell my mid-night fears by hopping online to for immediate access to relevant information. After typing in a quick search for “pain in right abdomen” I get Articles, Expert Answers, Videos and Community Answers featuring similar inquiries and responses from other pregnant women so I can quickly know whether or not I should call the doctor or if this is a common, non-emergency symptom that other women have experienced. I quickly read a few posts and find out my ligaments are just stretching and I should get back in bed. Now, that’s what I expect.

Sure What to Expect has now developed an online supplement to the book, but I have not found it as comprehensive or user friendly as BabyCenter. Since launching in 1997, BabyCenter offers millions of new and expectant parents interactive content to take them from conception to birth and through childhood. The company reaches over 78% of new and expectant moms online and has received numerous awards, including six Webby Awards, for its online excellence. I’d like to add to the list with my very own, first-ever, Technically a Parent Must Have Resourceaward.

As an expectant parent, BabyCenter has become my Must-Have Resource, because it is relevant, interactive and accessible. The site successfully incorporates the latest in digital technology so parents can stay connected and informed in whatever format works best for them. In addition to endless amounts of valuable, searchable, hyperlinked content, BabyCenter provides customized weekly e-mail updates so you can receive quick overviews of what to expect during the upcoming week of your pregnancy (and the option to click to further explore topics mentioned); mobile updates/ texts with fertility, pregnancy or parenting tips; a community forum to post anonymous questions, explore the experiences of other parents, share photos and more; interactive tools such as the due date calculator, weight gain calculator, and baby costs calculator to help with every step of planning; social networks to connect with parents in similar situations or with similar interests to share stories and offer support both online and off; news and blogs to access up-to-date information on news of importance to parents, product recalls and more; an e-commerce section in partnership with to purchase everything needed for pregnancy and baby; and videos and slideshow tutorials on various topics (ahem, how exactly do you wash a baby?).

Over the past 6 months, BabyCenter has been a lifesaver to me and it’s definitely top on my list for excellent parenting technology. As I further explore what’s available out there, I wonder if it will hold its place…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I don’t actually have a child yet...

but over the past 26 weeks I have been responsible for caring for the child growing inside me. She has already brought me more happiness than I could ever imagine along with a healthy dose of added stress, many sleepless nights and a credit card bill that grows much faster than she does – that’s parenting right?

As I prepare for the birth of my child, I am exploring the myriad ways that my husband and I can use technology to help us raise a happy and healthy child. I must say I enter this project with a bit of hesitation as over the last 6 months technology has been both a blessing and a curse. From the first moment the pregnancy test read positive, we have been overdosing with information about the dos and don’ts of pregnancy, how the baby is developing day-by-day, what to expect during labor, what to do once you have the baby, and five zillion things that could potentially go wrong at any step along the way. The information is endless. Moms, dads, nurses, doctors, grandparents and even childless friends and relatives are blogging, chatting, tweeting, texting and more about their child rearing experiences and sharing their hard-earned advice. It is overwhelming at best.

I believe that technology is hugely important to parental success (and sanity) but I also know that we need to conduct a bit of due diligence to unearth the best resources available. This blog will capture my exploration of how technology is being used in parenting as well as the opportunities and challenges it presents. I look forward to sharing my findings and thoughts on the topic and, hopefully, hearing insights, suggestions, comments and questions from other parents and caregivers.