So, I am really looking forward to seeing the movie that’s coming out later this week with Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler called ‘Men, Women & Children’. I have high hopes for this movie and its ability to shed a spotlight on the pitfalls of technology if we don’t set the right example for our kids and go the extra mile to teach them how to use it and how NOT to use it.
Think about this. Our kids have never lived in a world without technology- unlike us. Which is what makes us electronic parents. To them- social media is woven into their DNA. I’ve talked in previous posts about the importance of familiarizing yourself with each of the social media apps they are using as well as privacy settings, etc. But, I haven’t addressed a few of the obvious and simple things we can teach our kids that lay the groundwork for good digital citizenship: the power of example and the power of positive.
The power of example.
You already know this. Kind of like when we get upset with nationally known athletes for bad behavior because they are setting a bad example for our kids. Any psychologist would tell you that you are the example your kids will follow (whether they admit to it or not) every day. Think about what you text, what you tweet, what you post. Is it building you up and promoting your ‘brand’? Most adults I know and associate with online would say ‘yes’ to this. Now the question becomes, how are you communicating these rules of etiquette to your kids? If they are already online, are you ‘friends’? Do you ‘follow’ them? Do they ‘follow’ you? If they are too young to use social media, are you creating good examples to be able to show them when you feel the time is right? Regardless of age, they will imitate what they see as the example before them. Be that example they can follow that will make you proud.
Kids aren’t the only cyberbullies. I’ve seen and heard about plenty of adults who have posted inconsiderate or callous comments as well as photos that might question (or confirm) the state of sobriety prior to hitting ‘post’. Which brings me to…
The power of positive.
This is downright contagious. Seriously- have you ever held a puppy or baby without smiling? That’s because their innocent happiness consumes every cell of their being and it’s CONTAGIOUS. Or, how about the stories we hear about from time to time about the Starbucks drive through line that goes for hundreds of cars paying for the person behind them? You can’t hear about something like that and not love it! Humor me on this one- think back to the last time someone gave you a kind, genuine compliment. How did it make you feel? Or how did you feel the last time you built someone up with a compliment, a kind gesture or a word of encouragement? Wait, here’s one- don’t tell me you didn’t check out all of the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ after the last picture you posted on Facebook…these things make you feel good as an adult, and for the most part, we are pretty darn good at it!
My suggestion is this. Let’s transfer that to our kids. Why not post a positive, random comment on your son or daughter’s page today? How about an encouraging tweet? Kind of nice to know someone is thinking about you- so do it! I know, I know- they might be embarrassed. Or mortified. So what? You’re the parent and their ability to interact online is privilege, not a right. Show them you’re engaged with what they are doing online. And if you really feel adventurous- make it a Pay It Forward Positive Post Day, and ask them to, in turn, post a nice comment to someone else. There is no downside to this- you are building someone else up while demonstrating your own strength of character. One that is contagious as well and one that your kids will emulate…which brings us back to the power of example…