Building resilience in a digital world must be a priority for our kids today.
What does digital resilience actually mean?
A while ago now resilience became the buzzword of raising children today. It refers to the ability of our kids to rise after a fall. To bounce back from adversity. To be ok with losing. There was a feeling that somewhere along the way we had mollycoddled our kids in to a state of entitled preciousness. A ribbon for every performance, effort or experience and a prize for every round of ‘pass the parcel’, had rendered them unable to take the heat of a losing battle.
And certainly there is a strong argument for that scenario.
There is also a strong argument for praising effort and not just outcomes. There is a need for our kids unique qualities to be celebrated and this sometimes means rewarding that which may come much more easily or with greater flair from a sibling or fellow student. We want to focus on the growth and development of an individual rather than following the narrow pathways of standardised assessments and testing. We want kids to shine without the burden of comparison. We still have a very long way to go on that front.
So what is it that our kids need right now? What do we need to give them for the future?
Here is a snapshot of what their world may look like today.
It is global and connected, networked and public.
It is largely transparent, magnified in its broadcasts.
It is a world where wins are triumphed and paraded on show. The accolades they do follow.
It is a world where the struggles, the challenges and the mistakes are on show. The devastation, that too can follow.
It is a world where even the likes of Lady Ga Ga can have tweet after tweet commenting on the “flab” on her stomach? Here is a picture just so you know some of the ideals we are still setting up for our kids.
It is a world where they will have to understand the difference between fact and fake. Truths and rumours.
There will be an endless supply of information and data they will need to decipher. They will generally seek out that which already supports their views and their beliefs, thus possibly closing them off from growth.
They will have to decide that which is trying to change those beliefs based on ulterior motives.
They may have their ideas and views and beliefs trounced on by others.
They may be judged purely on their looks and the sexiness of their pout.
They may be chosen for a date based on the swipe of an unknown but geographically close potential suitor.
They may be groomed by a potential suitor who is really a paedophile looking for an easy target.
They may misinterpret communication or fail to use the right emoji leading to a friendship drama of monumental proportion.
They may send that nude photo because they believed the boy who said he wouldn’t show his mates.
They may experience people trying to rip apart everything they say or do in order to advance their own standing. They will encounter people who truly believe that the best way forward for themselves is to bring others down around them.
They will witness the vulnerabilities of others played out in negative and damning behaviour.
We are all part of a world that can be very unforgiving.
This is just some of what kids are faced with today. This is just some of what some adults are facing today.
For many of us we are aware of these elements of the digital world. We understand why people do and say certain things and we use that information or we reject it and move on. Sometimes we don’t understand and we shake our heads and hopefully move on. We have that resilience.
But not everyone has this. And certainly it is not something bestowed upon our kids at birth.
It takes time. It takes experience. It takes learning.
- It’s takes being proactive not just protective
- It means being able to deal with negative and challenging content
- It means creating positive content
- It means building empathy and supporting others who are struggling
- It means having a balance between online and offline worlds
- It means learning to avoid difficult encounters
- It means bouncing back when difficult encounters happen
Teaching them the skills to be resilient in a digital world, will go a long way to ensuring success for our kids, and most importantly, their social and emotional wellbeing going forward.