I have a simple rule I enforce with myself when online: if at any time while considering posting something (a Facebook post, Tweet, Instagram picture, comment, message or email), I have that fleeting thought: “Hm, should I really post this?” then I absolutely don’t. I will of course weigh it up on its merits, appropriateness or likelihood of offending someone. However, even if I think it might be fine to post after all, if the thought that it might not be OK has crossed my mind I always follow my own rule and don’t post it. I consider not posting something to be a small sacrifice compared to the trouble I might cause if I go ahead and publish it to the world. That inner voice seems more often right than wrong!
This month consider chatting with your mentee about their approach to social media. Key important areas to discuss with your mentee:
- The extent you find validation or value from others based on ‘likes’ or ‘follows’.
- How honest and accurate is your online profile – how much does it create a false idea of what your life is like? (And what impact might that have on people who follow you?)
- The quality and health of your interactions and conversations with others.
- What you watch, read and look at and the benefits or harm that does to you.
- Your ability and habits around fact-checking, discernment and susceptibility to fake news or manipulation.
- Your understanding around pressures that come from comparing yourself to what you see on others’ feeds and profiles.
- The ways you go online, your device habits and the length of time you spend doing so each week.
- The dangers from predators, scammers and criminals.
Having discussed far and wide, allow the conversation to focus where the mentee’s enthusiasm or interest is greatest, as this will be where they have most motivation to act. Ask them to choose a word that sums up what that motivation is for positive change, eg health, kindness or fun. Now turn this into an acronym by asking them to come up with a word for every letter in that word to act as a reminder for their values and how they want to behave regarding the internet and their use of devices or social media. The idea is that this is an easy to remember word that they can recall often before they post on social media or when they are browsing etc. It should be aspirational but achievable.
This is something that needs to be followed up in subsequent sessions. Text them the acronym this week so that if they forget what it is, they have it right there in their messages to refer to.
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