There are times in my life when I want to say something like, “How were these people allowed to be parents?!!!?” Today is one of those days.
The internet is ga-ga over the latest viral video showing parents throwing slices of American cheese at their infants and toddlers. An Inside Edition video asks if this is bad for kids. (Unequivocal answer: Yes). Eater has a nice piece that calls out the “trend” for what it is: a weird, cruel prank.
It’s also dangerous, because if you cover up a baby’s mouth and nose with cheese – clearly visible in one of the videos – they can’t breathe. Oh, hahahahahaha! What fun! We’re such cool parents, we throw cheese at the helpless human who trusts us most in the world, and then we put it on the internet for everyone to laugh at. Hysterical! He’ll love it when we play this back at his wedding! She’ll be thrilled when we pull this up for her 16th birthday! Baby’s older sibling already thinks its uproarious and can’t wait to imitate it the first-grade lunchroom. (“But Mrs. Jones, Daddy did it to our baby!”)
I try really hard to stay away from stereotypes, but 30-somethings abusing babies for internet likes and shares is the ultimate push to make me ask: What is wrong with millennial parents????
It is really hard to not post photos of your cute kids all over social media, even after you know that the brains behind social media don’t allow their kids to have any screen time, or even after knowing that your child’s photo could be used in sick online role-playing games, or even after being told social media is as addictive for children as cigarettes and alcohol (for which we have age restrictions of 18 and 21, respectively), or even after reading this:
Athena Chavarria, who worked as an executive assistant at Facebook and is now at Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said: “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”
It takes tons of self control to make sure you don’t share every little milestone precisely because of the addictive nature of what is on our smart phones (as the tech giants who invented them now admit). Little kids are just so dang adorable! You want to show the world.
But posting photos of yourself being mean to your child? Identifying to everyone that you don’t understand the difference between being funny and being cruel? What is wrong with these parents? (Yes, I did make a judgment there. Someone has to.)
I think we may need to include social media parenting lessons in birthing classes. If people are unwilling or unable to break their “look at me” addiction, we need an intervention that includes, “This is how you know you’ve gone overboard on social media as a parent.”
Lacking that intervention, schools, journalists, aunts and uncles can inform children of their right to privacy. Just as we try to explain to children that their bodies are private and no one has the right to touch them without their permission, perhaps we also can teach them to say “No” to phones pointed in their direction. Especially if there’s a piece of cheese involved.