Supporting our tech-savvy, socially-driven and amygdala-reliant young people to make good choices online.

Phew! Even the title of this editorial alone may bring about cold-sweats for the ‘less digitally native’ of parents in the audience. We can’t work out our Instagram from our Tweets, let alone why or how Tik-Tok is anything more than a biscuit clock covered in icing. But as we raise our young people in this VUCA society, it is important that we equip ourselves with knowledge and the appropriate ways to support our young people; so that we can respond, rather than react, when things don’t go to plan. 

So let’s talk about social media use… 

My experiences and conversations with parents in the community of late suggest that, while students are away from face-to-face connection with their friends, they will likely begin craving some ‘social attention’. The mix of ‘desire for attention and connection’ and a ‘heavy reliance on their brain’s amygdala to make decisions’, will likely see our young people turn to negative behaviours or make rash decisions to fill that void. 

Some things for you as parents to be aware of/consider: 

1. GROUP CHAT

While group chat rooms (made up of class peers or friends) can be great places to seek support and chat about the English task that is due or connect socially… they are also places where young people can say things that they will later regret. They may use obscene language, be unkind toward others, send inappropriate images or even send ‘cries for help’ in the form of suicide/self-harm threats in an effort to gain attention (rather than being based on truth).  

Some things you can do:

2. TECH-FREE ZONES:

3. TECH-FREE TIMES:

Each of these suggestions will also be further supported by open and honest conversations with our young people about the risks and impact of our social-media behaviours. There are several documentaries, reports, tv series or movies that focus on our digital footprints and their far-reaching impacts. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a family movie night which will then open the opportunities to chat about these issues with your teen? A movie, or topical news story often provide a great springboard for conversations that will allow us to reinforce biblical and family values, and to gain some insight into how your child’s moral-compass may be faring. 

For more information and support on online safety and resources to support, check out https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/online-safety.

For lock-boxes to assist with setting boundaries for your family check out https://www.inchargebox.com.au/

If you feel that you or your child are struggling significantly with mental health concerns – please contact the school, or follow the link below to an external support provider. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions