Let’s change the conversation about digital safety.
Keeping Young People Safe Online has been a hot topic for more than a decade.
There is a level of consistency around the type of content, and its delivery when messages of digital safety get shared. Most commonly, every school has parental information evenings that cover these lurking dangers, but do so in an alarmist fashion. It prevents an important message from getting through, even being met with resistance.
Parents often return home from these evenings to discuss concepts such as
The need to be careful online.
The need to watch your reputation online: Your future employer could be watching.
The understanding that online content is effectively permanent.
Parent evenings form an important part of a school community as a way for educators to discuss, assist, and join with parents. The goal is to create a set of unified values that not only addresses the issues, but sets a message that is conveyed around the clock, both at home and at school.
Cyberbullying, Online Grooming and Predators, Sexting, Reputation Management and Future Proofing an Image for Employment are repeat topics for the parent evenings of today.
Maintaining an open line of communication with our children is so important, especially when these concerns are both real and valuable.
The team at I’m Enough hold the opinion that our teens are savvy.
They understand and have a strong awareness of most of these topics. The warnings have most certainly been repeated as they grow. However, the message they hear could have been delivered in a way that doesn’t promote a level of understanding, or rebellious personalities may not share an agreement with the nature of issues at hand.
What is not covered in a parent-teacher meeting?
An often lacking aspect to these meetings is a discussion on how to deliver these essential messages. After an informal chat with a few teens, their feelings are loud and clear: they feel unequipped to deal with the emotionally related elements of the digital environment.
To be honest, I was so proud that they felt confident enough with me to share their inner thoughts.
These teens feel anxious, they feel inadequate and they feel judged by their own social media profiles, and with those they interact with.
It’s a sad fact that doctors and professional advisors around our country are hearing a similar message.
Rather than repeat discussing these important issues with our teens, I think we should be opening up a new dialogue.
It takes a village to raise a child, so ask these questions of yourself, and your community:
Are we emotionally equipping our teens to deal with the realities of digital life?
- Are we entrenching in their self-belief system a concept that they are enough? That they are beautiful, perfect, special and unique?
- Irrespective of how others may look or behave, have we laid the foundations to build emotional resilience, in the face of the digital environment?
- If we are to amend how we identify issues and develop new solutions, then where should the discussion start?
Here are some topics to start the conversation in a different light:
You Are Enough Without Factoring Follower Counts Into Self-Worth.
Why do many feel the need to have two Instagram profiles – an authentic one for those close to us, and a façade for our wider network?
How is it, that when the way people portray themselves online couldn’t be further from authentic, that we judge ourselves through the lens of people we haven’t made a genuine connection with?
Why is it that we are judged by the number of this network, and is this form of self-assessment a realistic measure?
You Are Enough To Share What You Truly Stand For.
Social media gives each individual a form of self-publishing. Yet, when we publish content into this electronic space, we may feel anxious about how it is going to be received. Judgement is almost certain. These voices of self-doubt that mutter words within our mind can cause havoc. Why do we let this happen?
We are using a technology platform to self-publish our image. As long as this content is based on your personal beliefs and value system, we should trust it to be an acceptable part of our society.
The old discussion of belief, values and attitude is relevant. If a belief is held, this can translate into my value system of how I will conduct my life.
Know that the response of someone reading our shared content and images is actually something you cannot control.
Why do we make ourselves anxious when conveying an honest picture of ourselves? We are enough and we should be able to stand by what we share and believe in.
1. Beliefs come from many different sources, including personal experiences or cultural and societal norms.
2. They manifest as the values you live by.
3. We should not take on the attitude of onlookers.
If nobody is hurt by our thoughts and actions, there is no justification to be judged.
You Are Enough – the opinions of those that don’t know me don’t count.
In the world of influence marketing, it is a reality that few teens will come close to achieving fame. Yet, our teens are helping each other increase their follower base. Shout-outs are common: “I love this profile so much, can you help me get her to 1000 followers?”
Does Anna really understand that she is welcoming people into her inner world that she doesn’t know? Yet in return for sharing her privacy with random people, she is opening herself up to receive unprompted and judgemental messages from them.
Why would we do this? Why would we allow unknown people into our rooms and home?
It seems silly when questioned, and yet when these strangers voice a comment or message us, we take their input personally.
You Are Enough – Love Yourself For Who You Are.
You need to know what to do if a friend is thinking about self harm.
Do I stand by if I know someone is suicidal? Or do I call for help?
There are many helplines attached to this website. Our teens need to know that reaching out to a professional and asking for help is okay.
You Are Enough – celebrate your differences, embrace your uniqueness.
No matter where you are from, or how you look, you can be teased by those hiding behind a screen. Always remember you were made the way you are for a reason, and that you will always be enough to those that love you.
I’m Enough was established as a charity that brings greater awareness to a new discussion. We aren’t out to crucify the digital world – far from it – it’s well and truly here to stay.
Our community should aim for a conversation that provides life skills for our youth; to thrive within a digital environment. By way of:
An instilled reliance of self.
Our teens surrounding themselves with real friends who have their backs.
The knowledge that they are enough.
The digital team at I’m Enough would love to hear your stories.
What challenges have you faced within the digital world, and what have you done to overcome them?
We urge you to share your stories with us so that we can all learn together.
Written by Cathy Mellett – Digital Agency Owner and Founder of I’m Enough