Archive for Communication

Digital Parenting 101

Posted on Communication, General, Technology September 1, 2018 by Mary George

As the school year begins and our to-do lists grow, the idea of getting through the first month of school can seem daunting. To add to the paperwork, meetings, and activities is the extra layer of parenting that we cannot lose sight of – technology – smartphones, apps, social media and gaming. Our children, otherwise known as “digital natives,” have access to the world that we never knew at their ages. For parents, it can be overwhelming and exhausting to the point that many turn a blind eye without giving direction to their children as to how to be respeonsible online. Think about it this way – would you drop your child off in the middle of Times Square in New York City with no guidance or instruction? Access to the world wide web is no different. They need age appropriate structure and guidance as to their usage…but how? Here comes the Digital Parent –

 

Below, we have put together a few ideas and links to help lighten your “beginning of the school year” load when it comes to our children’s technology use. We hope that these help!

 

Communication – Talk about being safe online – the age of your child depends on the discussion.

  • Ask younger children to think about being online like they would going on a field trip. Do not talk to people you do not know – stranger danger. Ask for help if you need it. Go to trusted adults if you have a problem or if someone is bothering you.

  • Older kids need to understand what cyberbullying is – define it and explain it. Help them to understand what it means to be an Upstander and if they see something online that they are not comfortable with in texts, social media or even a picture, to come to you or another trusted adult. WiredSafety is a great resource to help facilitate the discussion.
  • In addition to the above tip, Teenagers need to be aware of their digital footprint. Everything that they post on social media can be accessed and colleges and college athletic scouts pay attention to their online persona.

Contracts– Social media/smartphone contracts between you and your child.

No devices in the bedrooms – children need time to turn off and shut down. Not to mention sleep!

Stay up to date on current apps, social media platforms and be aware of who they are texting and chatting with.  Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource to help guide you.

Device free dinners. Take time to check in with you children. It is good for them to know that they have 100% of your attention.

Check out our resource page for further links to help guide you to keep your children safe online.

We also give workshops for parents on “Navigating Technology & Social Media with Your Child”  as well as workshops for children “#DigitalGeneration” and “Technology: Gaming & Social Media 102.”


–Mary & Claire

Navigating “13 Reasons Why” with your Child

Posted on Communication, General April 30, 2017 by Mary George

 

If you are the parent of a child ages 11-18, I am sure that you have become aware of the controversial Netflix series, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young-adult bestseller. It is about a high school student, Hannah Baker, who kills herself and leaves behind 13 audiotapes detailing the events that led to her death, including sexual assault, substance abuse and bullying. These 13 tapes are sent to 13 people who she says contributed to her decision to commit suicide.

The controversy lies in what many feel is the irresponsible messaging to teens (it is rated TV-MA meaning the content may not be suitable for audiences under 17). Mental health professionals believe that it glorifies suicide possibly making teens who are contemplating suicide to imagine what life is like for those they leave behind as well as potentially leading to copycat behaviors. One very important point that the show never articulates is that most children who die by suicide have mental health illness, such as depression, that is treatable. Also the lack of responsible adults in the show is unnerving and unrealistic. It does not show teens that there are trusted adults, whether parents, other family members, teachers, and/or school counselors that can help. It has been hinted that the possible second season will bring in the adults’ point of view since it is so gravely lacking in the first 13 episodes.

What can we do to help our children who are watching this series? Once again, communication is key. If your child is watching “13 Reasons Why,” watch it with them and discuss it. Ask them specific questions about how certain scenes made them feel. Discuss with them the power of words and how cyberbullying and bullying feels to them and to others. Help them to understand that the show does not depict responsible adults and that there are people that can help. Also, how you understand their feelings and are willing to listen and help find a solution. If you are comfortable with your child watching the show be ready to talk to them about sexual assault. This is not a small, insignificant conversation to have. It must be well thought out and discussed. If you are struggling to know how to begin any of these conversations with your child, Common Sense Media outlines the following conversation starters after watching “13 Reasons Why” which can be very helpful:

 

  • *Ask: Have you witnessed or experienced cyberbullyingor more traditional bullying? What different forms can bullying take? What can you do to fight it? 
  • *Do you think 13 Reasons Why romanticizes suicide, or does it provide an important outlet and opportunities for discussion? Or both?

    *Families can talk about the way suicide is addressed on this series. When is it important to talk about mental health, especially if you’re worried about a friend or family member? What resources are available to help both kids and adults?

  • *What do you think about Hannah’s choices? Was it right for her to blame others for her suicide? What are some healthy ways to cope when relationships, family, and school get overwhelming?
     
  • *Sexual assault, specifically the rape of a main character, plays a large role in this series. Families can talk about resources available to teens; the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way for phone-shy teens to reach out in times of need. 

I feel that it is important to note that the National Association of School Psychologists “has advised teenagers who have had suicidal thoughts to avoid the series entirely. They recommend that any teenager should watch with a parent who can make it clear that suicide is not a solution to problems.”

Our children’s lives are incredibly complicated and they do not have the benefit of personal experience or the ability to process the issues that they are confronted with everyday. We have to be present and thoughtful in our conversations with them so they can gain an understanding of how to deal with these situations now as well as continue to ask questions and grow with a sense of trusted connection to others, strength and empathy.

Further Resources:

JED Foundation – Protecting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Rape Crisis Center and Hotline

 

—Mary & Claire

 

 

**My Remarkable Self is available to give workshops, school/camp assemblies and classes for parents, students, educators and businesses. Please contact us at info@myremarkableself.com for further information.**

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