With each passing day there seems to be a new social network created and a new series of complications that arise with them.  As part of the Internet Safety for Kids and Family mission to educate, we have shared updates to look out for ranging from threats like misinformation, deepfake deception, and Twitter scammers to more social etiquette items like friending your kids on platforms. With nearly 3.96 billion users worldwide, the questions surrounding social media channels and their impact on our children are endless.

While social media can be used to cause harm and sow division, it is more critical than ever to focus on all the good that can happen through it. Kids deserve to learn how to use social apps in ways that can help themselves, others and the world. We can’t lose focus on the fact that there is still a lot of good that occurs across these communication platforms.

In our most recent webinar in our Managing Family Life Online series, we connected with Shaunelle Curry, Founder and CEO, Media Done Responsibly (MDR) and Aleeyah Ward, Student Intern, Media Done Responsibly. Together they discuss effective ways of using social media to support the causes you and your kids care about. The goal of the Managing Family Life Online Webinar Series is to empower parents, families, and educators online. A few interesting takeaways from our conversation:

  • MDR showcases how social media can serve as a safe place. Although the community was already working with youths on a number of serious topics like body image and cyberbullying, the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor and the rise of movements like Black Lives Matter increased the need for ‘safe places’ for civil dialog. MDR created places where students could get together – away from debates, trolling and politics – and speak to one another with empathy, connection and hope.
  • Social media is a two-way communication channel. Although often referred to by marketers as ‘listening tools,’ too often we find that users of social media aren’t listening but shouting over each other. So often users are quick to defend their statement or belief that they have not taken the time to listen to an opposing view. The MDR team not only recommends taking the time to hear everyone out, but also take the time to seek out outlets and resources you may not normally go to. Break out of your own echo chamber and get the full picture of a story.
  • There is good out there. One great example is the work of DJ D-Nice. Since March 17, D-Nice has used his Instagram feed to create “Club Quarantine.” These dance parties featured a mix of music that draws hundreds of thousands of virtual fans, including a range of celebrities. At a local level, the MDR team also saw individuals posting safety information for protesters to ensure everyone had proper food, water and event overviews via social channels to ensure those looking to participate in important social conversations could do so in a safe and legal way.
  • Responsibility should be looked at in terms of ‘ability to respond.’ It is still too easy to point fingers in debates surrounding who needs to fix social discourse on social media. We must instead be asking ‘where can I help make change?’ The reality is tech companies, social media users, policy makers and more share responsibility to ‘clean up’ the messes on social media.
  • Social Media is Media and therefore, can be edited. We all need to push for more authenticity. Whether using Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram or other platforms they all offer filters to distort how you look and appear to a broader world. This compounds a problem already in existence: body image and the value of physical appearance. Similar to looking closely at news resources for misinformation, social media users need to look closely at ‘ideal’ images to see which is fantasy and which is reality.
  • Make sure you look at all four pillars of Media Justice Advocacy. The MDR team is focused on media literacy, media production and media justice advocacy. For those looking to make the most of their platforms for advocacy purposes it’s important to keep focused on these four pillars, and ask the following questions:
    • Issue – What’s the issue at hand?
    • Resources – What tools or resources are at your disposal?
    • Response – What is the community’s response to your efforts?
    • Impact –What were the results of your efforts?

To hear more on these topics, listen to the full conversation with Shaunelle & Aleeyah, please visit:  Social Media and Social Causes

Additional helpful Tips from Media Done Responsibly (MDR)

Next up: Dr. Michael Rich, Director, Center on Media and Child Health and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School returns to discuss our increased dependence on the internet for school, work, and connection to others has created both challenges and opportunities for all families.

As we keep our children home and safe, how do we ensure their time online is safe and healthy, too? How do we ensure their technology use does not negatively impact their mental and physical health? Join us on October 21, 2020 for these questions and more as we dive into this discussion with one of the country’s leading experts. More details in our Webinars page.

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens is Vice President of Global Consumer Education & Marketing at Trend Micro and Founder of the Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 25+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support online safety, digital and media literacy and digital citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, an advisory committee member of the Digital Wellness Lab, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.

Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens.