Tech Talk Tuesday: Dropping Your Kids Off At the Mall

03.3.09


Ooh the interwebz are a scary place. You’ve got to get Spybot and Net Nanny as well as Anti Virus software and (if you’re lucky) you run Leopard on your Mac. You let your kids go to trusted websites for products they enjoy and WHAM.

You get this at Skittles.com.

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And yeah, that’s one of my favorite Moms @BesteyBoooms at the bottom of the page, mocking folks who like skittles, and clogging up the stream all at once. You can’t hate her, check out that smile.

There’s a message to be taken from this in two distinct (and in my world) equally important voices.

1. Don’t send out a message you can’t control. Viral marketing is wonderful and exciting and cheap, but she’s also a fickle two bit hooker that could leave you with a nasty disease.

2. Don’t drop your kids off at the Mall without taking them there first.

The lesson to brands: I get it, it seemed like a snazzy idea. Let the social media folks pick up your brand name and twitter, facebook, blog and my space it (yes, those are all verbs – leave me alone). It’s relatively inexpensive and hasn’t been done before, it’ll make a big splash.

Here’s the problem, I’m the Mom. I’m online for several hours a day, this is my living and I’m reaching out to other moms alerting them to block the word “skittles” from websites that their kids can visit. It was the rainbow flavored crotch shot that did me in. It’s not an attempt to punish a business, it’s just parenting. My kids come first. Always.

Yes, skittles got the eyes of the 18-35 year old men, but I don’t really see them at the grocery store. I’m there with my kids and a lot of other moms. We bribe reward our children for a successful outing with a treat every now and again. With a strict DVR policy in place, if you want to get to my kids you’ll need product placement or a website. My kids are out of the loop now.

The lesson to parents: It’s okay to have your kids online, it’s good in many cases and with some simple strategies it’s really quite safe. I drop my kids off at green.com and Club Penguin with some regularity.

My husband and I will sometimes sit at the food court at the mall, have a cup of coffee and let our kids walk to a store together. We do this for a variety of reasons which include but are not limited to; building their self confidence, rewarding them for good behavior, getting some time together and teaching them social skills. Before our children walked around the mall together, they walked around the mall with us.

We’ve taught them to ask a mom with a kid for help, we’ve taught them to ask for receipts and to never go to the bathroom alone. We’ve told them that they need to say please and thank you but that if someone touches your hair (or any part of you) and tells you how beautiful it is you are to say, “Do not touch me.” and you say it loud.

The internet is the new mall. Before I drop my kids off here, I need to be familiar with it. I need to block popups and known spyware sites, I need to show my kids that your friends are people who have been to your home, people online aren’t your friends, they’re just people, and they may or may not be who they say they are. My kids will see porn online one day. I’m sure it will happen quite by accident, but I’m trying to delay it as long as possible.

Parents, get to know the new mall. The boogeyman is scarey, the web doesn’t need to be, we all just need to be more informed. Today you know that Skittles.com is a site that should be blocked from children.

If you’re wondering what Skittles did, Mashable has some screenshots before it got porn-ish. Mashable thinks it was a great experiment, clearly they will buy the candy.

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8 responses to “Tech Talk Tuesday: Dropping Your Kids Off At the Mall”

  1. Selfish Mom says:

    I feel bad for whatever poor PR person had this brilliant idea. It was either some young thing right out of school trying to have that career-changing idea (probably worked, oops!), or some old thing trying to be hip without really understanding how quickly things get out of control online. Well they know now!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I have a friend who lets her 5-year old use the computer alone all the time. Once she started reading, she realized she had to change her email password because her daughter was reading it.

    Even if your kids use the computer supervised, you still need to stay on top of this stuff. My husband once did a search for The Jetsons with our five-year-old on his lap and the stuff that came up with George & Judy was disturbing, as you might imagine. Thank heavens, she wasn’t paying attention. He learned his lesson quickly to set up filters!

    It’s certainly a different age and requires new lessons in safety as you say.

  3. Fiona says:

    You aren’t kidding. I’m actually very nervous because my kids are just getting into using computers. Great post btw!

  4. Elle says:

    I’m wondering why they don’t just throw together some code to filter out the naughty tweets.

  5. annie says:

    My six year old rarely goes online or on the computer at all unless it is a game or a site I have scoped (and she manage it herself because there is nothing worse than having to play games on the computer with her). My adult children live online though.

    Good lessons.

  6. […] a lot from this. Although I firmly believe that Motrin needed a scolding, I don’t think that Skittles or Nickelodeon need to be punished. They just need to decide if they’re marketing to children […]

  7. […] I equate the internet with the mall. I’m showing my kids around, and teaching them safe habits. Unlike the mall, they’re needing these skills more than I’d hoped for. […]

  8. Hashtag Spam says:

    […] to have forgotten that a “free hashtag” isn’t a one way street. Remember when Skittles thought that they would build a platform based on a simple feed? Walmart tried selling mom jeans […]

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