God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains… so do I. Yet, it may not be our children’s brains… unfortunately, it is probably our children’s hearts. Having taught since 1989, I have seen a lot of changes in people and frankly, I do think … NOT TO BE TOTALLY NEGATIVE… we are seeing the United States of America in a CULTURAL WAR! Yes. A cultural war and the casualties? Our children / my students.
Here is the deal… We have children who are being raised by single-parents (me being one of them) giving their children fifty-percent, right from the start of what a human being was meant to have supporting them. We also have more and more families living apart from one another. Grandparents are not a fifteen-minute drive away. They are a fifteen-hour car drive away or even farther away. The “happy” married couple simply can’t phone the Grandparents and have them babysit or even phone aunts and uncles to babysit!
So, when the child is being exploited by a very narcissistic / selfish social media world, who is there for them? I am not shaming single-parents! Stop that “simple” thinking. Because my childhood was in a single-parent home, the child (me) goes home to an empty house and then he / she gets back on the social media grinder to see validation. Unfortunately, the validation can be negative. Those children want attention. ALL HUMANS WANT ATTENTION! When the children see the “like” or the “angry face,” they know someone is paying attention to them in that empty house.
Listening to my favorite radio talk show this morning (November 10, 2017) – ARMSTRONG & GETTY, I became “angry-faced” with a hint of “face-with-a-tear.” They were discussing the Sean Parker interview, as well as the interview one can see on YOUTUBE! Un-flippin-believable admission of creating something that can hook / exploit a person’s vulnerability. On the A & G show, the comparison of the denial of “social media can cause illness” to the denial that “smoking can cause cancer” is a very fair comparison. It certainly is not a false equivalency.
Our human nature can be ugly. At the time of this article (November 10, 2017), we are seeing all sorts of allegations of men doing unspeakable things to women / men / children. I am one of the few who believe, on a smaller scale, there are women who are doing unspeakable things and their time will certainly come; right now, we are focused on the evil of men. We see stories of female teachers doing unspeakable things to their students. Also, like women used to be, many men today are afraid to say that a woman abused them or sexually harassed them. “You’re a man. How can you not stand-up to a woman?” Now, we see that Mr. Parker is admitting there is an ugly side to FACEBOOK and other social media.
Very ugly to “exploit a vulnerability” of any fellow human being. Exploiting the vulnerability of another is the animal part of the human being and these folks (Parker, Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Glass, etc.) know this. These people studied their customers’ “needs.” They continue to make millions / billions of dollars exploiting us – includes me. I am a FACEBOOK addict. So, why do we continue to support their exploitation of us? Because, we need SOCIAL-VALIDATION. As with any “good” product, their “product” fills a need.
The need for social-validation goes back to what I said earlier about the family. Many of us from single-parent or dysfunctional homes have a deprivation of self-confidence / healthy esteem; or, knowing that our family is literally next to us / in the next room / a block away ready to give us that human NEED of “social-validation.” FACEBOOK and the rest are the sharks feeding off this human need / vulnerability .
Now, please do not put your words into my article. There are plenty of children of two-parent households who are addicted to social media and our wired for this “vulnerability.” I have students with a mother & father who, with the cell phone on their music stand or in their hand, deny they are using their cell phone for social media. It is strange and “sad-face-with-a-tear” to see them so addicted. An alcoholic with a drink in their hand saying, “I don’t have a problem with drinking.” When the teacher asks the student to give the teacher his / her cell phone and the student starts to shake or cry, there is a problem.
What is the answer to stopping this exploitation of our children and many adults? LOVE. CONNECTION. ENCOURAGEMENT! While they are young, we need to teach our children / our students the ill effects of social media, much like we do for smoking or too much sugar or drugs / alcohol. We have anti-smoking/ anti-drugs / etc. campaigns nationwide. Let’s do the same thing with social media. Anti-social media campaigns are beginning to develop and now thanks to the Admission of Mr. Parker, they need to increase.
The child needs to be taught / trained that the love they need is provided from their family and religion FIRST. Yes. Friends can provide love, but certainly should not be the first people to provide such love. The children need to be taught that much of the social media is FAKE / embellishment of truth. True love can never / should never be fake. LOVE YOUR CHILDREN! Do not allow the social media to be the substitute for your love.
The child needs to be taught / trained that “connection” needs to be FACE-TO-FACE, not phone-to- phone / computer-to-computer. Teach / train your children the different levels of connection for them as children: ROOKIE LEAGUE – SOCIAL MEDIA; MINOR LEAGUE – FELLOW CLASSMATES (study groups; athletic teams; performing arts; religious youth groups, etc.; MAJOR LEAGUE – THREE… just three … CLOSE FRIENDS WHO MAKE YOU (your child) A BETTER PERSON! For them to succeed and have a happy life, children need to learn they need to give to and receive JOY from other people!! They need to connect with others. They will NEVER succeed on their own.
The child needs to be taught / trained that encouragement is giving support to others; not some shallow “heart” or “thumbs-up” emoji. Part of the word “encouragement” includes “cour” or in French, it would be “couer” which means HEART. How can one, in a sane world, replace sincere encouragement with an “emoji?” I use the cool emoji, but my goodness … there is nothing like a hug or seeing a smile. Well, children are not “sane.” Pooing in one’s pants is NOT SANE! We are teaching / training them to be “sane.” We (adults) need to have their hearts in our hands. They need to know we love them and no post on FACEBOOK or whatever you call it on INSTAGRAM / SNAPCHAT can mean as much as our (parents) hug; our smile; our kiss. Our (parents / adult family members) encouragement needs to be deeper / greater than a “heart” or “thumbs-up” on FACEBOOK. The child needs to be taught that FACEBOOK and other social media are created, IN PART, to profit from their weaknesses. Social media is a business enterprise and they need to make a profit, just like any other business.
In the end, teach / train your children to protect their heart. These companies are going for their hearts. Teach / train your children to use FACEBOOK as a tool for communication, not a tool for validation; not a tool to fill their heart. Share the pictures of the trip with no expectation of the “likes.” Share the stories of your fantastic dinner with no expectation of the “wow” face. Share the date and time of your next arts & crafts sale with no message to “I cannot wait to see your work.” Teach / train your children, the only “heart of validation” comes from family and three close friends (people who make them better people), not their Facebook page or their Instagram / Twitter / Snapchat accounts. And most importantly, teach / train your children, that everything on social media has a chance to be a lie – EVERYTHING – while everything you (parents / adult family members) has the chance to be sincere Love. Connection. Encouragement.
It is a rough time to be a kid – in part, because we are falling short in doing our job. Teach them / train them “a rough time” is part of life. DO NOT SMOOTH THE ROAD FOR THEM. Just be there when your child / student needs “alignment.” We are in a battle to save our children from a “brave new world.” (sad face)