GUEST BLOGGER MEGHAN STRITAR
As a parent, I am continuously thinking about how we are preparing the next generation to run this world. I think about our environmental choices and financial planning.
One key piece many people are not thinking about is social media.
This is new territory for us. I remember sitting at a teacher training when Facebook first became a ‘thing,’ and the heated discussion was based on if social media was going to stay around or not. Well, I think it is -- and growing tremendously with Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, and probably a new one this week that I’m too uncool for.
We all know that kids learn from watching us and following our lead. What are we communicating to OUR KIDS on social media channels for all to see?
The past few months, we have seen a rise in town groups or “chatter’ pages. And wow, I feel sorry for a couple of towns if anyone decides to base their view of that community by their page. But many good things come from those pages including more support of local businesses and rallying together when families need help.
Do you want to leave a social media world full of negativity and bashing, or one where people can clearly communicate and even respectfully disagree? I want the latter.
So, using quotes that I tell my kids in my most understanding, compassionate voice here are some tips to keep in mind, please.
1. “If it is important to you, you will put in the effort”
Facebook is not Google. Do you want to know the number to the local grocery store or how late Target is open? Google it. It is not someone else’s responsibility to do that simple work for you. Also, please, please, please read the article posted before commenting. The person who wrote the article for your benefit took a lot of time to provide you with free, easily accessible information. Don’t simply read the title and then ask a question about the topic that probably could be found in the article. If you are someone who helps others Google, then you are an enabler -- please stop. You deserve to spend that time doing something you love instead.
2. “How do you think that makes them feel?”
Sure, you can say what you want, but there are consequences. If you are negative, you are going to attract negativity. Great news though -- the opposite also works. Positive people are way more fun to be around! I like to laugh; laughing is fun.
3. “That is not what the word 'offended' means”
Seriously, I had to tell my 5-year-old daughter this. My brother and I got in a discussion about how people are throwing out ‘offended’ any chance they get. Well, my daughter must have picked up on it and a few days later when a bright light shined in her eyes, she explained, “UH, that light is offending me!” Pretty funny, but I explained to her what 'offended' actually means. The great news is that she understood, so I am confident that adults can to! Hint: it is NOT the same as disagreeing with someone. Can we make a pact to erase this word from the social media world?
4. “That seems like a bad decision to me, what do you think?”
Social media is not a secret portal where you go and have no natural consequences. In fact, there may actually be more! I once came across a post that was mom-bashing. As women posted trying to explain why they do the action the original mom was appalled about, it only got worse. I thought, “Wow, who is this person?” and clicked on the profile. Oh my! It was someone that headed up a local non-profit for moms and families. Although her post did not state this, I’m sure people took notice. So my question: Is what you’re posting really so important that it could hurt your job, reputation, or family’s image? I’m sure this person would not have posted her negative thoughts if she had thought about the potential consequences first.
5. “When someone is doing something for you, be respectful and kind.”
Teaching manners seems to be an ongoing parental job. This is one where we definitely lead by example. For Facebook groups, remember admins are NON-paid people. These groups are not businesses and have no duty to us to be operated a certain way. If they run their page in a manner you do not like you always have the option to leave. If they have rules to try to keep it a positive place for people to communicate, and you want to be negative, don’t be upset with them for not allowing you to. We all have the option to start a group with people of similar interests and to run that group however we want.
What helps me before I hit ‘send’ is to imagine myself speaking on a podium in front of the entire world: all ages, all beliefs, all backgrounds are there. Would I feel comfortable making this statement out loud to this group? Would I want these words to represent who I am, who my family is? Because that is exactly what happens when you are communicating through social media. Whether you are posting on a group page, commenting on an Instagram post or retweeting, please think about how you are leaving this social media world to OUR KIDS.
Thank you for reading… I would love to hear your comments.
(Meghan Stritar is a Hendricks County mother, a Villager, and the publisher of Macaroni Kid Hendricks -- another valuable resource for Hendricks County parents!)
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