The other day I was honoured to be on set of Family in Focus, a local television program hosted by my friend, Gillian Barker on Rogers television (Georgina). The topic: parenting out of fear.
During the conversation I shared how parenting out of fear and control when it came to social media really stifled my children and their passion and how my relationship with them and our conversations have changed as a result. My learning from this resulted in my writing Social LEADia,which will be published this week, which highlights the voices of kids who are using social media in creative and positive ways for digital leadership.
Here are a few excerpts:
Don’t underestimate social media and the internet. If you just took a minute, and looked at the things that students do online that do change the world, you would be SO blown away. It’s actually really cool. Social media allows us to share our voice and issues that we care about and let our voice be heard by people in different cities, provinces and countries. Yes, we can do bad things online, such as cyberbullying, but we can also prevent the bad things, reverse it and do things on the internet that will help us change the world for the better. Social media is also a place where we connect with other like-minded young people and organizations. When we are able to connect, we can get and give support and encouragement, share ideas and information with others who share our passion and drive to create change.
—Hannah Alper, 13 yr old
When I say social media most people, especially parents scream in fear, “Ah, social media” that’s where my kids go and write bad comments about their teachers or post pictures from that party they were at. This is where malicious behaviour takes place. But that doesn’t have to be the case. I recently wrote a blogpost called, “Why is the conversation surrounding social media so negative? And in it I document that my experience with social media is unusual, but it doesn’t have to be. So why is social media abused? What I found is that the conversation is always negative. Social media is abused by young people is the rhetoric that older people are using. So adults come and lecture students by saying “Don’t use social media.” “Social media is bad” “Don’t do this” and students start to identify social media as a negative place. Once you start lecturing to someone that they can’t do something it motivates them to do that thing and then they start developing these negative schemas of social media. I have a radical concept for you–especially those of you who talk negatively about social media.
If you present social media as a positive space, as a place for students to go to express themselves, to connect with professionals with other students, then that’s the type of learning you are going to see there.
—Timmy Sullivan, 18 yr old
I think we really owe it to our students to put our fear asides and see what the connected world has to offer: to understand it better.
This quotation shared by George Couros in a recent post really resonates: