It’s been a few years since I’ve had the opportunity to talk with kids. As I prepare and refresh “A Very Social Presentation” I feel a renewed sense of urgency to attempt to impact their young minds in a way that makes them think about difficult situations and the choices we make from a different perspective. Social platforms may change, but much of what we use them for- positive and negative- has stayed the same.
I’ll be speaking to nine small groups of 4th, 5th and 6th grade students over three days at one of our local elementary schools. It is important to me to let them know from the start that I will be having an interactive conversation with them. It’s not a lecture and I won’t be talking at them for an hour. The kids I spoke to last are now in high school and I can’t help but wonder how they’re all doing. Many of them were so eager to talk with me and share their experiences, fears and questions. I heard about everything from them being asked to ‘send nudes’, how to deal with mean comments, being threatened over Xbox that someone was coming to their house to beat them up, and so much more. After one assembly, a student came to me to share a concern for a friend who was being relentlessly attacked online.
What she told me warranted a heads up to the school’s Principal and I haven’t forgotten that child’s genuine concern for their friend.
In the end, I believe the most important parenting tool we have with our kids is to keep them talking. To us. If and when you allow them to download that first app, I highly recommend you use and know the ins and outs of it yourself. As parents, it’s important to consider and understand the dichotomy of not wanting our kids to be left behind their peers socially, and knowing that at younger ages (7-13+), they are psychologically immature and emotionally unprepared for what they will encounter within the World Wide Web. It’s a playground with little or no boundaries and parents cannot expect social media giants to care or fix the problems completely. Their main goal is to keep us addicted.
Highly recommend watching The Social Dilemma.
Early education and communication are key.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate!
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