We live in a world obsessed with tech innovation. What can we make bigger, better, and faster? We spend hours (In my case over three! It’s embarrassing!) scrolling through our phones on the latest and greatest apps. In a world where people long for human connection, so often tech (and specifically social media) get a bad reputation. In truth, technology and social media are lightsabers: they can be used for good or for evil. And, we prefer to dive right into the good. Because, the truth is, with the tech tools that are constantly innovating and improving to work better for more people, they put the tools for human connection at the world’s fingertips.
How do we know this? Because at Crisis Text Line we’ve done it. Over the last six years, we’ve processed over 130 million messages from people in crisis, connecting them with an empathetic human and helping them move from a hot moment to cool and calm. The data shows that the way we communicate with each other using tech can make a meaningful positive difference in someone’s life.
So, here are four ways you and your kids can use technology for good in the world.
Check-in. One of the greatest tools technology affords us is the ability to constantly communicate. Any time, anywhere we can send a quick text to the people who matter to us. Research shows that young people look to text message as the number one way they communicate. So, lean into it! Instead of relying on texting for straightforward logistics and updates, look to texting as a way to have more substantial conversations with the young people in your lives.
Connect With Community. Yes, quite often social media and technology are ways for your people to keep up to date on the people and things immediately in their lives. It’s also a tool to stretch personal relationships beyond immediate connection. Identify what you’re interested in. Sports? Manga? Music? Then, seek out the internet communities following your interests. Sometimes, it can even lead to real-life friendships. Curious about how to get started building meaningful internet friendships? The Buddy Project is a great place to start.
Use kind words. The data shows that one of the most powerful tools we have to help someone is the number of kind words we use. You don’t need to be a trained counselor to use this tool in your lives. Write a positive comment on someone’s social media post, send a message reminding someone that they are smart or brave, or even keep your phone full of personal reminders of all the kind things you can say about yourself.
- Share the good stuff. At Crisis Text Line, we’re here whenever anyone is in a crisis. We want it to be easier for people to get help than to avoid getting help. One way to do this is by making sure that the world knows that we are at their fingertips whenever they need it. Try encouraging your kids to program 741741 as a contact in their phone. Whether they are worried about a friendship or an upcoming exam, Crisis Text Line is here to help--always.