Zuzu's PetalsFacebook this week announced its new social media application targeted at children,  Messenger Kids.  Designed to be COPPA-compliant, the text, video chat and photo-sharing app combines parental controls with all of the quirky features that tweens and younger folks will simply love, thereby ensuring Facebook will enjoy a next generation of engaged customers … and also their data.

The new app drops smack into the ongoing cultural debate over the wisdom of young children being exposed to regular internet and social media use.  Detractors of the new Facebook app note concerns about data collection and use.  The Wait until 8th campaign advocates for no smart phone use until eighth grade.  Notably, both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limited their children’s access to technology.  And studies regularly link social media use with increased rates of depression among youth.

The notion is that young people should be protected from unfettered exposure to social media and the Internet until they are old enough to use these tools with responsibility and moderation.  Fair point, but a flawed premise: when it comes to responsible and moderate use of technology, we adults still have a lot of work to do.

I’m not even counting the obvious, which is how we adults commonly walk (or worse yet, drive) while hopelessly lost in our phones, staggering around like Night of the Living Dead extras.  “Pedtextrian” visits to the emergency room have soared in recent years.

Instead, consider how we misuse technology and data in the workplace:

  • We reflexively use technology platforms to “communicate and collaborate” with coworkers who are sitting just a few steps away, missing opportunities to develop interpersonal understanding and trust.
  • We habitually bury our noses our laptops, tablets, and phones during meetings, which makes such meetings longer, less efficient, and less impactful.
  • We relentlessly multitask, allowing technology distractions to extinguish concentration and creativity.
  • We thoughtlessly allow old email, texts, and documents to accumulate, clogging data repositories and making it ever harder to find the information we need.
  • We carelessly disregard sound security practices by clicking on suspicious links and being cavalier about passwords, public WiFi connections, mobile device protection, and prudent separation of our work and personal data.

Perhaps young people could benefit from some better modelling from us on responsible and moderate technology use.  Families, just like our organizations, benefit from setting the right “tone at the top.”

And ironically, some of the best guidance for responsible information practices in our organizations is already deeply ingrained in our kids.  As it turns out, all we really need to know about Information Governance we learned in kindergarten.