Parents, able Grandparents, older brothers, sisters, cousins, and people of authority we must do something about our young minds being led astray by social media and mobile technology! Working in the classroom and with school administrators, I’ve seen first hand the havoc social media is wreaking on school age children and the lasting effects that students cannot quite grasp yet. As socially conscious adults, it is our responsibility to protect these young impressionable souls from the rawness of the online world for a menagerie of reasons but principally the following:
- Social media is weakening the young mind’s ability to make decisions. Brendon Burchard of Brendon.com said it best “Stop browsing so much!” (Skip to 3:52 for the heart of the message).
Young minds are already all over the place and easily distracted. By fostering this culture of browsing the mind is over stimulated and consequently weaker when it really matters the most. President Barack Obama does not pick out his own suits because of decision fatigue, imagine how Instagram can impact third grader with a developing mind!
- Many things young people see on social media they are seeing and or hearing for the first time. With no one engaging alongside of them they are forced to draw their own often erroneous conclusions that they carry out into the world. Young minds often cannot discern what they are seeing online from reality. They are buying into false concepts of beauty, falling victim to predators, and in the worst cases coming across terror related propaganda dragging them in a direction none of us want to accept as a problem.
- Nudes are a huge problem in schools! Every school I’ve shared my S.O.Social Media seminar with has dealt with ‘oversharing’ and cyber bullying. Since the biggest celebrities of our time do it … frequently … students do too. Even worse, students often leak each other’s nude photos to friends just like adults do. But in the educational environment this can be devastating on another level.
Recommendations to prevent and help heal the damage that has already been done.
- Buy less than smartphones, no cameras or applications. This type of phone will be less of a distraction during the school day. Teachers are losing precious time confiscating phones from distracted students. This takes away from the teaching and learning process for all involved.
- Browse social media as a family activity. Make family accounts allowing everyone to like what they like, and follow who they wish to follow. This way social media is bringing the family together not creating barriers. This can also help if your child will not allow you to follow them. Break down that wall!
- Save the headphones for games and road trips. You might not have time to police daily engagement but if you can hear what they’re watching or doing you can make determinations on whether it’s appropriate or not.
- Continuously communicate that everything online is forever.
- Propose alternatives like playing outside or reading a book!
It’s not about having the coolest phone in the 7th grade. It’s about not having nudes pop up in a Google Image search when your kid is applying for college. Don’t let what lives on the internet become your child’s reality.
There are lots of ways to use social media for good. But I’ll save that for another post…
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