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Babies = End of Your Social (Networking) Life?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
4 July 2008

As regular readers may notice, the Tamar Social Media blog has been a little quieter over the past three weeks. The reason behind this pre-summer lull isn’t that we’ve all gone on lovely hot holidays, it is mainly due to my wife and I having our first baby on the 14th of June (and my subsequent paternity leave). Wonderful news I’m sure you’ll agree, but what has little Robert (the aforementioned progeny) done to my social (networking) life?

During my wife’s pregnancy, a number of people commented to me that after the baby was born, I’d soon "forget about Facebook and all that" and would be too consumed with nappy changing to even think about RSS feeds and blogs. Naturally I scoffed at this suggestion (and handed them my business card, pointing out the "Head of Social Media" title!) but secretly I wondered, could that be true? Will I suddenly lose all desire to update my status, or tag a photo? I certainly hoped not!

Robbiefb

So now that the baby has been around for 3 weeks, I find myself reviewing my time online, and I’m happy to report that the prophecies of doom were very far from the truth. Sure, some of my online activities have been lessened by little Robert – I don’t update my Facebook status as often (which causes some concern for my mother, who worries that I have died if it’s not updated more than once a day!) and I haven’t been able to do as much blogging. But I think that far from being forgotten, my web 2.0 time has actually been put to better use now, making me appreciate it even more. For instance:

  • Viigo on my blackberry has proved a complete saviour, allowing me to catch up on the blogs and feeds I subscribe to at 3am in the morning while trying to sooth a crying babe-in-arms.
  • Facebook‘s photo sharing facility has allowed my family and friends to keep up with little Robert’s antics despite some of them living thousands of miles away. Tanya challenged me to get a photo of the new baby on Facebook within ten minutes – sadly, due to an unplanned caesarian and dodgy reception I didn’t quite manage this, but did get over a dozen photos taken when he was less than 15 minutes old!
  • Equally, Flickr has also been well used for relatives who haven’t joined Facebook yet – with their privacy settings making a late appeance too.
  • YouTube allowed me to show my brother videos of his new nephew (via stolen wi-fi on his iPhone) while he was hundreds of miles away on holiday in the Isles of Scilly.
  • The ‘walls’ of my various social networks allowed friends to send messages of congratulations quickly – by the time Robert reached his first 24 hours, there were over 50 messages from well-wishers on my Facebook wall alone. And even better, it didn’t (as I’d suspected) limit the amount of physical, snail-mail cards we received either, with over 40 arriving within the week.
  • The amount of supporting or advice messages we have received has been brilliant – update your status to something like "Henry is having trouble getting Robbie to sleep" and dozens of people will send you their suggestions of how to calm a restless baby – brilliant!
  • We’ve also discovered a whole new world of websites to utilise, some of which are doing more snazzy Web 2.0 things than most of the people I work with. Big mentions must go to BabyCentre, MumsNet and KellyMom.

So there we have it. Far from killing off my online social life, parenthood has merely made me use my time more wisely – probably making more use of the web’s many great features in the process.

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