Fast Chat: Jane Pratt

The Internet Week panelist and founder talks tech, family, and flirts a bit, too

What is this Digitas “Modern Family” panel you’re moderating today all about?
I don’t know. I’m going to figure it out at midnight the night before. Basically I want to open up the discussion to successful content creators. I want to explore the fact that, because there are so many screens going on all the time, families these days are often in the room together and communicating, but not with each other. Or they’re communicating with each other through their screens. It’s a modern dynamic that I want to explore with this panel.

How is that playing out in your own home?
Oh my lord. It’s out of control. I hope to learn from the panelists tomorrow who have been dealing with this longer than I have. What are some good boundaries around that? I’ll give you some examples of how out of control it is in my own household: my 8-year-old daughter, the day the site [] went live, she figured out how to post to the site from my phone. She took my phone from me. Did a blog post. Went on to chartbeat to see if the traffic went up. I feel like it’s today and it’s the future and it could be her career, so I let her run with it.

It does sound like there’s a hint of concern in your voice.
That was smart on her part and cool that she could do it. But on the other hand I think there are too many times where she and I are both in the same room, both on our laptops. If she’s doing something on her laptop, going on to one of the sites she likes, I get to get a little work done on my laptop. I think I need to set some more boundaries with this. My little hacker.

So, no restrictions at all?
I was running [the kids’ browser] KidZui for a while, but then she wanted to talk to her friends on some sites. I do have certain times at night where I will say “turn off the electronics” at a certain hour. That goes for her, but not me. She doesn’t usually listen to me. She’s on YouTube, so there’s plenty of stuff she could be seeing that’s inappropriate. She’ll be on it with her friends or by herself and she’ll say, “Oh, no. That’s going to be inappropriate. Can’t watch that.” I’m very open anyway with what I expose her to. I’m certainly not the norm that way. She’s 8 and I have a lot to learn.

Do you worry about bullying at all? Or is that overblown?
I know, that whole cyberbullying thing. It’s like peer pressure. It’s a term that adults put on it and I don’t know that that’s how kids think about it. Although now that I think about it one friend of mine’s son did have some problems with that. But he’s 11 or 12. I do think at my daughter’s age it hasn’t started yet. 

How has xoJane been going?
It’s going great. It’s going better than I had expected or hoped.

Any surprises?
I feel like I’m learning something not just every day, every 10 minutes about what gets a lot of heat in this medium.

What gets a lot of heat in this medium?
Tinsely Mortimer getting a “make-under” sure does got a lot of people looking at that. I’m constantly watching it and seeing how I can play with it, seeing the ways we can amp up the response—using Facebook, Twitter—like when we do a contest to help me find my old Sassy magazines.

Engaging with your readers.
Totally. I’m so engaged with my readers. I tell my readers I love them way more than I tell my boyfriend. I‘m so engaged with them, it’s sick. I can’t stand for there to be a question up there from a reader and it’s been more than 10 minutes and I haven’t responded. It’s sick. That’s why I have hives.

What do you do for hives?
I don’t know! The readers are starting to help me out with advice. I couldn’t tell if it was too gross, but I took a picture when I got ‘em last night and I put it up.

Why Tori Spelling for this panel?
Digitas arranged it. But I’m really excited to be reunited with Tori Spelling because we did something back in Sassy magazine so many years ago that hurt her feelings. And she wrote about it in one of her books. And I have not had contact with her since.

So this is a real bury-the-hatchet moment.
I was looking for that term. Yes, exactly. Bottom line, I like her openness about herself. I think she’s a girl’s girl, meaning would choose a girlfriend over a boyfriend. But we’ll find out tomorrow.

What is the piece of technology that has actually been the best for your family?
Some things we’ll play together on the iPad that are fun. We can engage around it a little bit more. I will say I am much more in touch, even though it’s not as much time in person and it’s not as meaningful, but I’m much more frequently in touch with my mom, my brothers, my sister. We tried to get my grandmother online, but she wouldn’t go for it. My mom texts, like, old-school “C U l8r.” It’s hilarious. Even my nieces and nephews, we’re in touch constantly through texts.

What are you going to ask Kevin Jonas?
The Jonas Brothers are totally huge, constantly communicating with fans. They have a YouTube channel, they’re always trending on Twitter. I want to ask Kevin how it’s changed the way he communicates with his brothers, whether it’s caused any miscommunication. I don’t know. You tell me. I told you I haven’t prepared this yet.

He’s got to be sort of a digital native. He’s come up with the Internet. I wonder to what extent that was a factor in his upbringing, if there were limitations placed on that stuff.
That’s a good question.

OK, I think we’re cool here. Thanks for your time.
Thank you! And you are very cute. But I don’t want to be sexually harassing.

By all means, bring it on. 
OK, good.