Youth and Social Media: Shifting Mindsets

This past week I say on panel on social media and today’s youth. The panel immediately followed an an opening presentation by two speakers.

What was supposed to be “Understanding Social Media in Your Child’s World” turned quickly to what I often fear in these forums: Us vs. Them.

  1. Track
  2. Follow
  3. Oversee 
  4. Protect
  5. Block

And on and on with a tone that kids are ignorant of how to operate online and unable to make good decisions online all while there are evils awaiting them at each turn.

And while everyone was coming from a place of caring and desire to create the best conditions for kids, I’m fearful of the message that families took away.

My Take

I am not an expert. I don’t see all the evils that law enforcement encounter daily. And honestly, I’m not sure my message which was considerably different than anyone else resonated. But here it is in bite sizes

  1. There is a knowing-doing gap. Research tells us that kids can tell you how to act online, how to keep themselves save, and what to do when there are problems. However, they still make mistakes frequently.
  2. But… This isn’t a tween or teen issue. It is a societal issue. Adults are perhaps worse citizens online than children
  3. Historically, we have banned it then we tried scare tactics before saying we need to educate these kids. Education was “we know you don’t” before than gave way to “maybe they know more than us”. All of these approaches failed to some degree.
  4. Today, what is working is good parenting and good relationships in schools. Let’s embrace this together: explore, learn, and use social media together. It is part of a larger conversation about life than absolutes that governed early attempts
  5. We need to evolve the conversation beyond just Embracing together this journey into three key areas: Mindfulness, Mindsets, and Development of Self.
  6.  We need to know that all humans make mistakes when the emotions of the moment overtake the mindfulness that yields the ability to pay attention and process before action. Teaching mindfulness is key
  7. We need to know that a community mindset builds empathy, leadership, and connection. This frame of community makes us all aware and interested in the best possible things for people. It is human centric at the core.
  8. Knowing our self and developing the best version of that self is at the core. We spend far too much time on content that never yields growth beyond the surface intellectual. 
  9. We are so focused on catching them and assuming wrong doing that we sacrifice relationships, trust, and hope. Engage with your child in the ethical dilemmas we all face and be a positive model in a world full of adult models leading youth towards anger, tension, and meanness 
  10. Remember that right now digital distraction and lack of life focus is the greater concern. Lost in the intoxication of online and keeping up with the Jones is crushing the spirit of adults and youths alike. Mindful. This is the key

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