As technology becomes more and more of an integral part of our lives, it can often be difficult to separate our experiences online from the rest of our lives. This adds another layer of complexity to our interpersonal relationships and allows us to relate to others in new ways. In the online world, each person has the potential to have a much broader reach than most in-person interactions allow, a power that can have both positive and negative consequences. That is precisely why it is so important to take an extra moment to make sure that we truly mean the things that we say and do online. In other words, always remember to think before you type.
One thing we want to remind ourselves and others of is the fact that we often have an audience when we post things online. As distant as our online interactions may seem from real life, they really are not all that different. Just like the words that we say, the words that we type and send via our phones and social media sites can be incredibly powerful. This can have both positive and negative impacts on yourself and others depending on how you choose to use that power. The actions that you take virtually not only have the ability to impact you and those around you at the moment but also can have long-term implications for your mental health. When you post things, you have an opportunity to help set the tone of your online community and inspire others to do good as well. It does not have to be anything big, just small efforts that can help make a larger impact. Sometimes it means taking an extra second before you post something that you may regret. Other times, it means putting some effort into identifying people who would benefit from a kind message or support. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
It can be fun to get other people in on it too! Why not start the conversation at home? Here are 5 conversation starters to help you and your kids think before you type and do good online:
- Think about a time when you may have seen a positive video or read a positive post. What kind of impact has that made on you? How can you do the same for others?
- What are 5 ways that you like to have fun without your phone?
- What would you do if you posted something you didn’t mean online?
- How can you be the change that you want to see online?
- When was the last time that someone sent you something online or in a text message that had a positive impact on your day? Let’s pass it on! In what ways can you use your phone or social media to brighten someone’s day?