Ah the bane of modern educators everywhere. The internet and computer development has put at our hands an amazing array of tools to help us better educate today’s youth. It has literally put access to unlimited amounts of knowledge at the fingertips of our children. This is both benign and incredibly malignant.
If your child can find information about the laws of physics easily then they can also find how to make find information and likely you tube videos on how to make cannabis dabs. The amount of scary information available to them is staggering. On top of that many of our youth also know how to find their way to the dark web. An underground world web full of child predators, drug dealers and terrorist.
monitoring the use of computers now more than ever is so vital to raise the fresh group of millennials. For those of us who have already passed this phase know the real dangers that are out there.
On top of that social media has created an entirely new universe of dangers. You as a parent need to familiarize yourselves with snapchat, instagram, and twitter. On top of that there is a new market being created everyday.
You know you have arrived when you have several millennials with you in a van and none of them are speaking to each other. Literally they are speaking via the internet. You may say what is the big issue with that. Millennials have lost the art of conversation. They do not know how to communicate faced to face. This presents a problem in the real world.
My 20 year old left one of his many entry level jobs by telling his boss he quit via text message. To him this was the normal way to communicate but to his boss this was a slap in the face. Once my son moved on to his new position his former boss made it difficult on him by denying he was ever employed there. This new position did extensive background checks and determined my son had lied on his application. He nearly was fired and it took us several phone calls to secure the truth.
I am not defending the employer’s decision to hold up his employment, however I am saying if he resigned face to face I believe this issue would have been less likely to occur. My sons skills at face to face communication has been sorely lacking due to his almost exclusive use of social media.
As teachers we are constantly instructed to constantly be on the look out for bullying. In some ways the constant drilling of this into our heads as blurred the lines between bullying and normal childhood behavior. We have sheltered our millennials so much that they almost feel they are being constantly bullied when in reality I can honestly say physical bullying at least on the high school and middle school levels in my experiences have declined dramatically.
While physical bullying may have decreased social bullying is rampant. This additionally creates a problem for educators when they social bullying occurs out of the school setting. This creates a gray area as to what we as educators can do in regards to discipline.
Social media has given millennials a faceless opportunity to say whatever they feel without dangers of repercussions. This way of thinking has given rise to trolling (make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.) Trolling to some Millennials is an art form that they work very hard at. The faceless nature of social media has eliminated the need to read body language and facial expressions.
Harmful words are bantered about regularly by our millennials without any understanding or concerned about those on the receiving end. My father had a saying that I have since come to understand as false “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you.” I have come to realize after 15 years in the education system words do not only hurt people they can have a devastating impact on the receiver of the negative actions.
We all have seen the problems and the results but what are the answers? We as parents of millennials need to begin to instruct our children in the art of civil discourse. This topic will be discussed further as we go. What can we do to help solve the problem.
Create internet free time periods at your home during the day to promote conversation in our own homes. Maybe make dinner time for example internet and cell phone free. This would include your 20 something millennials. At first they will be resistant to this plan but if you stick to your guns and eventually it will become something that is expected.
Encourage your millennial to speak to people with authority directly or face to face instead of by social media. Employers really will appreciate this. Text can be used for short conversations but for actually interaction face to face is always better.
If your millennial is still under your purview monitor their use and what they are saying. Once again the trust issue comes into play. They are not yet ready to deal with the freedom and responsibilities they will truly need to use the internet the proper way. Do not assume they are always doing the right thing.
Read what other people are saying to your millennial. Research and become fluent in social media speak and slang terms. In short you yourself need to become a social media guru.
One last area of concern for young millennials which many do not want to hear or are ashamed to admit it may happen the distribution of self images across social media. I would like to tell you it does not happen but it is occurring on a regular basis. Young millennials sending provocative and even nude photos to themselves to boy/girl friends. We as teachers are having a tremendously tough time getting kids to understand that things posted or sent on social media can be permanent.
We need to begin to form a very strong partnership between parents and teachers and stamp out this kind of social media use as quickly as we can. Please when a principal or teacher sends contacts you about this very serious issue use the rule we spoke of earlier guilty to proven innocent.
I teach in a very affluent school district and have witnessed first hand how damaging this can be to a young millennials reputation. Often I hear “He asked me for it and I made him promise to delete it right away.” This is a common error that we see on a very regular basis. Odds are your high school aged millennial is not going to marry their high school sweethearts. The information becomes very useful to this young man or woman who is trying to gain popularity amongst friends.
This issue I would assume does not go away when they become college level students although my understanding is limited to those students that I deal with. I have even seen this issue rear its ugly head with 40 and 50 something people. I have seen it nearly rip several marriages apart in a very short amount of time. To those of us who have clear thinking heads this is an absolute mistake but to a young millennial mind the dangers are not registering.
On a final note on technology. If a school contacts you and suggest you limit some useage of the cell phone and not allow the child to bring it to school please do so. For the most part there is no real need for a cellphone at school. 20 years ago we were somehow able to contact students in emergencies we can certainly do it now. Also please do not encourage students by calling them during our class times contrary to popular opinion it is a distraction to our classrooms.