In NH, where I live, survey says that many kids are heading to the outdoors for some skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, ice fishing or winter hiking. Lots of kids are looking forward to sleeping in, hanging out with friends and more computer and video game time.
Computer time ... hmmmmmm. As much as I enjoy and encourage face to face, eye to eye interactions with my clients, I must say that modern technology has transformed my work with teenagers into a whole new, much more efficient world. Email, instant messaging, texting and social media make connecting, sharing information and coordinating things simple, easy, and fast!
However, connecting with teens in the e-world makes me keenly aware of some of the issues, concerns and even dangers that technology poses to teens, adults communities and our society.
Yesterday, a conversation about Valentine's Day led to a teen sharing the story of her friends' recent breakup. The breakup was posted on Facebook shortly after it happened. Within a short time, a bunch of people jumped into the conversation. The conversation quickly polarized. Parents jumped in to defend their child. It escalated. Soon, a very personal and painful experience for two teens who really care about each other turned into a cyber-bullying fiasco with lots of people involved and with very real possiblities for significant legal action.
Unfortunately, this is a scenario that is quite common and very unfortunate for all involved. To top it off, schools across the country are being challenged to address outside-of-school online issues as in-school issues as this online behavior often affects students' rights to feel safe in school as well as their right to an education.
So, what's a parent to do? How can you navigate this sometimes overwhelming, ever-changing world of technology?
Here is a pretty comprehensive resource to help you navigate the world of e-parenting.
Also provided is a link to a facebook contract that you may want to evaluate and use with your teens.
Pass the Torch Facebook Contract
Finally, a quote (I love quotes!) that challenges us all to consider that technology is no excuse for the lack of basic human kindness, compassion, and integrity we strive to teach our kids in our face to face interations.
"Social media should be no different than "real life." If we have nothing kind to say...perhaps we should say nothing at all. Today, please help me to create a positive shift in facebook’s energy. Inspire your friends by sharing this idea and then post a message that will lift spirits and open hearts. When used for good, social media has the power to change lives and the world."
~Michael Chase from www.thekindnesscenter.com