The arrival of the internet some 20 something years ago, presented us with untold changes to the way we live our lives. Much of those changes now centre around how we work, how we are educated, informed, entertained and how we socialise. The online world has now become a hot spot for human interaction and connection and thus anyone hanging out in this space becomes subject to all manner of human behaviour. And after spending the last 5 years more closely entrenched in this world, I have seen how these behaviours affect people and most importantly, how we must learn from this, to ensure the effects on our own kids remain positive and enriching and not debilitating and soul destroying.
What we have so far seen online is……
- a story, a video, an image can invoke great empathy and perspective. People can be moved to make changes, to raise awareness and to educate others.
- the world is made up of so many different people with different values, priorities and beliefs. Many of these people believe their values, priorities and beliefs are the only ones that matter, and are the only ones that are true. Putting these people in one thread, newsfeed or comment section can have diabolical results.
- trying to make everyone happy is impossible. Trying to do so, leaves people dejected.
- trying to predict peoples reactions is futile. Many reactions are bizarre and bewildering and absolutely unpredictable.
- people love to inspire, motivate and use their abilities and circumstance to help others.
- people love to share the best and the worst of their lives.
- people like to stand out in a crowd and enjoy their time on the ‘soapbox’
- people like to be anonymous
- people are hurting and take out that hurt by trolling others
- people love feeling connected, they like to know they are not alone in their struggles. They also like to know others are doing it as tough as they are.
- they like things real
- they like things distorted, filtered and airbrushed.
- perception can be everything
As you can see, the online world is a paradox of reality, distortion, connection and disconnect. Hanging out with people of relatively similar values, circumstance and location has made way for a melting pot of an extraordinary number of every thinking, feeling human on the planet. These thoughts and feelings are now on constant high alert.
For our kids, the world they are entering is vastly more populated and eclectic, more transparent and more far reaching than any we ever had to navigate as an adolescent.
As parents we need to keep this in mind.
We need to be sure our kids have the skills to think critically about how and with whom they are interacting.
We need them to have the confidence in themselves and who they are to ensure they do not rely on the screens for their sense of self worth.
We need them to have self regulation to know when to walk away
We need them to feel empathy
We need them to understand perception and reality
We need to provide a culture of balanced play to ensure they are part of a world away from internet.
We need to role model and show our children the behaviours that we want to see.
Adults are not always providing the greatest example. We need to do better.