There are some pretty bad things that can happen online. There are some pretty wonderful and amazing things that can happen online too. There are people who are downright crazy, angry, bitter and jealous. There are people who are hurting. There are people who are kind and giving and compassionate. There are situations that get out of hand. There are words that are said in the heat of the moment. In fact it is just one big bubbling melting pot of every person, belief, value, opinion, intention, idea, product, service, piece of information, source of entertainment and connection with other people…..all coming together in a pretty public place.
As such it can be a pretty intense, lonely, threatening place to hang out. Or it can be a warm, supportive, inspiring, helpful and fun place to spend one’s time. And it can be a little of all those things.
Either way there can so much that is overwhelming, particularly when we are trying to get our kids to maintain the healthiest relationship with technology.
What we come to realise, is that there are some things we can control online and some things we simply cannot. But in the end, recognising what we can control and working hard to maintain that control, puts us, and our kids, in the very best position to enjoy the many benefits of the online world, and avoid all that crappy stuff.
The things I have control over:
- Who I talk to
- Who I follow
- Who follows me
- The sites I visit
- The comments I make
- The things I ‘Iike’
- The time I spend online
- The information I share
- The photos and videos I post
- The games I play
- The social networks I belong to
- The groups I engage with
- The articles I read
- The memes I circulate
- How I let things affect me
Now some of these things are harder to control than others. Particularly for younger people who have more difficulty regulating their behaviours due to that ‘still developing’ brain (although lets face it plenty of adults are not great at this either). And when it comes to how we let things affect us, it may seem we have little control. But with awareness, strategies and mindset, we can also control that too.
The things I don’t have control over:
- My Audience
- Other people’s behaviour
Yes I can set things up safely, put filters on, send photos to private groups only or via text message. But the fact remains that once that comment, photo, meme or video goes online in an way, I no longer have control of it. It can be copied, pasted, screenshot, shared, or simply picked up and viewed by a person unintended.
Either way…that audience is no longer controlled by me.
And I can never really stop that person from saying that nasty comment, or prevent that troll from trolling, or stop those people from sharing photo after photo of a party I wasn’t invited to.
But….I can always control how I respond.
Sometimes that means I simply ignore.
Sometimes that means I unfriend, block or report someone.
Sometimes that means I respond to their point of view.
Sometimes I ask them to explain further.
Sometimes I unfollow them.
Sometimes I seek them out to talk further or meet in real life.
Sometimes I take the dog for a walk.
Sometimes I am enlightened to take on a certain action or change a way of thinking.
Sometimes I stop scrolling the feed.
Sometimes I turn off the game.
Sometimes I whinge and moan to my friends.
Sometimes I make a new friend.
Sometimes I put away the device.
Whatever behaviours we see online, good, bad or indifferent, we always have the ability to choose how we respond. Once again, this is not always easy…..but it is still our choice. It’s worth being mindful and practising that choice, and teaching our kids the importance of that choice, in order for us all to have the very best experience online.