Selfies and the world of hollow 'Likes' '- A threat to the young minds- Part 2
"Behind every peaceful mind is a deactivated social media account."
Can we raise children to turn out to be responsible adolescents in this era of newly found 'narcissism' and 'power' to get 15 minutes of instant fame? Are there guidelines to ensure adolescents think once before embarking on ‘DANGER’ to themselves?
ROLE MODELLING, EDUCATION, AND INVOLVEMENT
STOP yourself first
Be the person you want your child to become. Children learn more by observational learning. They see more than they hear you. If you are a ‘Selfie King/Queen,’ it shouldn't surprise you if your child becomes a ‘selfie prince/princess’ and later become selfie-addicted teenagers. Home is the first school; parents are the first teachers. Therefore, be mindful of what you are teaching your child consciously or unconsciously.
Albert Bandura, known for the classic Bobo doll experiment, identified this basic form of learning in 1961. The importance of observational learning lies in helping individuals, especially children, acquire new responses by observing others' behavior.
A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The term "role model" is credited to sociologist Robert K. Merton, who coined the phrase during his career.
INVOLVEMENT- Be a consistent presence in your child's life
It wouldn't help much if you had no clue about your child's whereabouts. Much as they (the teenagers) would not like it, the truth is that your involvement and presence matter. Everyday life is more important than once in a while conversations. Engage in conversation with your children, know what they did the entire day, what activities and plans they have for weekends or holidays. Guide them along as they go about their regular life. Above all, invest in having fun-filled family time to be not left with 'friends' only.
HELP them see ' beyond themselves
Help them build character and not only the personality. Personality is far easier to read than a character which takes time to puzzle out. We do form opinions and make judgments about people being reserved, funny, extroverted, energetic, optimistic, confident, and overly serious, reticent, lazy, negative, angry, and shy. But character includes traits that reveal themselves only in specific—and often uncommon—circumstances, traits like honesty, virtue, and kindliness. Therefore, emphasize on character building and shift the focus from outside to inside? How can you do this?
That will also happen when you emphasize and celebrate character more than outward appearance. For example- When you are dressed up for a conference, and your daughter comes and compliments- "Wow, Mum, you look awesome. Everyone will be only looking at you." Now, if you Instagrammed yourself immediately, you are only focussing on the external appearance. It's the everyday messaging in innumerable ways that count.
TEACH children to value relationships
Your children need to see you without gadgets and devices. Try to drop your phone when your child comes to you asking for something. In the 'screen world' that we live in, social media accounts are more active than human touch. Children don't get the opportunity to develop genuine, meaningful relationships. You, as a parent, can help your child understand the value of human contact by spending time as a family and encouraging them to engage with other kids you trust. For example- Family dining time should be devoid of any gadgets strictly. Weekend activities should be planned with family and friends doing more real things(hiking, biking, swimming, playing, and the like) than spending time on gadgets and play station.
FOCUS on being productive
The old adage empty mind is a devil's workshop has never been more accurate. Have you ever noticed that you tend to check your phone too often, reply to inane posts, and aimlessly fiddle with your social media accounts when you are bored? Boredom can definitely breed unwanted behavior in you. This can happen a lot to older children with phones. Try to create structure in your child’s day through a schedule of chores, after-school activities, homework, free time, and family time.
There is limited opportunity for self-reflection if kids constantly post on social media and inundate themselves with technology. Information overload and excessive stimulation can contribute to impulsive and unsafe behavior. Look at how your children are functioning overall. Are they responsible in school, how are they doing in academics and after-school programs, what feedback do teachers have, etc.? Back home, are they shutting off their phone and getting enough sleep at night? If not, encourage kids to exercise, balance, and unplug from technology.
All this will only happen if you engage with your child and be involved in his day-to-day activities. There is not much substitute here.
EDUCATION- Every time and Everywhere
Every time you educate your child, you arm him with tools or weapons to wield it at those times when risk-taking behaviors are thought upon.
- Define negotiable and not- negotiable matters, and safety definitely fall in the latter.
- Restrict the use of cameras. Emphasis on experience first and then capturing the moment.
- Educate them about the beauty of photography and the responsibility and discipline that goes with it. Educate on healthy clicking habits. Mindless clicking is no art.
- Educate your child on height, depth, and speed. We have enough examples of risk-taking behavior which ended up in loss of life. Peer pressure can act as a big catalyst too. When your child sets on a trek or a road trip, be mindful in educating your child and his group about possible pitfalls.
Despite this, things can go awry because there is no perfect safety net. But these guidelines will go a long way to ensure the adolescent thinks once before embarking on ‘DANGER.’
This thing about a device or a relationship you have is that you can be constructive or destructive with it. You can choose to be mindless or mindful about what’s happening. Coming to our little device and the way the little camera has barged into our lives, make a conscious choice to capture a moment in more meaningful ways and not necessarily acting out of narcissistic tendencies. Allow yourself to live richly through experiences first. The problem with selfies or cameras is that it definitely captures the moment, but the emotions are only captured by the ‘Self.’
Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important. Bill Gates.
And you are your child's first teacher.
When you walk down that cliff to get a selfie to gather 100 likes, think. Is this danger worth it?
If you fell from the cliff and hit the ground with your head battered into pieces, not a single ‘LIKE’ can stitch it back and infuse life back in you. That hollow is a 'LIKE.'