Social Media and The Parenting Thesis Project

4:03:00 PM

As social media is now ingrained into the strata of our daily activities - that is to share and post and share some more - a natural outcropping might be that parents of the digital age may stumble onto a new resource to bestow on their progeny.



Here's a nifty idea (or new tradition) for all of you new parents of the next gen, especially those of us armed with an arsenal of recording devices: The Parenting Thesis Project. Now that our pockets are likely primed for directing and producing blogs, video, podcasts, photos and the like; now that the culture honors those who post and keep posting; now that our Facebook friends are sick and tired of our "Mobile Uploads" album being solely for the benefit of our newborns and toddlers; now that even GPS locatios are tagged onto every one of our media outputs ... Well it's an environment ripe for not only recording our children's progress in the world - from start to empty nest - but also, for the diligent parent, a fantastic resource for your children in understanding themselves and your intentions for them.

A close friend and new father, @enri_zoltz, has decided to snap at least one photo-per-day of his newborn boy - especially in the same or similar pose. His goal after 365 photos over 18-years was to compose a time-lapse video of his boy growing from infant to young adult. This would be his Parenting Thesis Project.

Yours truly, has set up a blog for his daughter, where I post a missive to her about twice a month. My thesis is that by the time she finishes college, she'll have a handbook of the moments that led up to her adulthood (from my perspective). It would be a sort of tome or reference book for her to decipher my intentions in certain developmental matters like why it was important not to let her own a smartphone at the age of ten, or what lesson was meant to be learned when I didn't salvage her credit when she ruined it with shopping sprees in her teens. It'll be a manual for her, of sorts, about who she is and what significant moments might have shaped her as she matures. It will be a multimedia manual with pictures, photos, movies and original songs. And, in the meantime, the blog serves as a place where friends and relatives can order prints of slideshows posted there and watch videos that are too large to e-mail.

The Parenting Thesis takes devotion - at least 18-years of it, but nowadays the ease with which one can capture and share their lives, digitally archived for posterity, makes the endeavor not a matter of doing it - since we're doing it anyway - but more a matter of developing a repository to collect the multimedia research material. One generation ago, it was the thing of scrapbooks. Photos glued onto archival paper; ribbons and scribble-drawings littering boxes in the attic. Now that whole venture can be archived in the cloud, annotated, tagged, published, and even printed down the road.

And, if setting up a blog, twitter feed, Flickr, Youtube and such account seems overwhelming, you can check into a service like
LIFEmee that just launched in September to keep track of your kid's progress. Tech Crunch has this to say about the service:
To recap, LIFEmee allows you to store, manage and share all significant aspects and events of your life: Your daily health condition, relationships, jobs, schools, possessions, hobbies, family members, pictures, notes etc. etc. The main idea is to give users a platform for organizing their lives online by collecting and structuring this kind of information for lifetime use. Users can not only review all data they fed into their "lifestream" (all data aligned along a time line) in retrospect but also lay out their plans for the future. The information can be shared or kept strictly private.
New parents I have met recently all seem to have concocted some sort of digital record-keeping for their family. It's as if the gestalt of the time calls for it.

Few might go the distance with their Thesis project, but doubtless we'll all children of the next gen will have a significant digital paper trail. Parents of the digital genration will probably still have access to the ones and zeros their creating in every "status update," and the only thing we don't know in this equation is if will be accessed from storage devices like, say, crystals.

I for one watched a DVD last week of my parent's attempt at archiving my birth and growth. They had digitized some High-8 footage - film - that they took of my brother and I's birth and growth into toddlers. The film strips were edifying while my father, now in his sixties made the voice-over commentary to the silent video feed. Cameras back then didn't encode an audio track on the cellulose.

At any rate, these are exciting times to be born in. Our Parenting Thesis tools might look archaic from our children's standpoint by the time they get to absorb it, but, it's likely that the tools that will be there to submit our thesis for review will be nothing short of doctoral material.

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