Think back to those anxious years as a new parent, and it’s easy to see that giving parents access to the Internet is like putting gasoline on a fire.
The perfect example of this new parent cyber-hysteria can be seen in a mom’s recent Facebook post gone viral: A concerned California mom claimed she found shards of glass in her Huggies baby wipes, and Huggies has finally issued a response.
The big rumor began a few days ago when Melissa Estrella of Camarillo, California, posted a video of her disturbing discovery to Facebook. Estrella thought she found several packages of Huggies baby wipes filled with glass. Given the shocking nature of the content (think shards of glass meet delicate baby bottoms), Estrella’s video immediately went viral, receiving over seven million views and thousands of classic “freakout” parent comments. In the video, Estrella says “all of this stuff shining on the wipes… is all glass.”
Don’t we feel silly?
There are two interesting takeaways from this epic parent meltdown that took place over the weekend, and they both relate to how we use social media. This mom reacted to what she believed to be a danger in her baby product in a way that any normal mom would react — she posted to Facebook to warn other parents. If there really had been shards of glass in the baby wipes, this mom would have been a hero. She was able to immediately provide information to other parents and even reach out to a large brand like Huggies, all thanks to the instantaneous connectivity of the Internet.
Now, on the other side of the coin, we can clearly see how easily a positive tool like social media can sour in the wrong hands, i.e., thousands of concerned parents who spread information without waiting for an answer from the company in question. It’s like that bad game of telephone we used to play in elementary school — by the time the Huggies rumor was shared thousands of times on Facebook, almost every new parent believed that a trustworthy diaper company was out to get them.
This leaves us confused and vulnerable new parents between a rock and a hard place: Do we believe everything we read on Facebook when there could be a genuine warning out there? Or do we remain skeptical and possibly risk wiping our baby’s bottom with a few shards of glass?
The answer lies somewhere in between. Anxious new parents are bound to search the Internet for information. That’s just a fact. But by now, hopefully we can agree that not every meme or viral Facebook post has merit — last year’s Talking Angela Facebook hoax that convinced parents that pedophiles were trying to reach their kids through a cartoon app comes to mind.
Facebook is a great place for parents to connect and share information, but it can also be a new parent’s worst nightmare when misinformed stories are circulated. There’s something every parent can learn from the Huggies hysteria that applies to almost anything you see online: Believe half of what you read and do your research. And don’t be so quick to throw out perfectly good baby wipes because of one panicky Facebook post.