Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Politically Speaking. . .

Fellow Bloggers, friends;  We are gathered here today in this period of profound change in communication.  My focus is social media’s effect on communication and relationships within the family.  Social networking has replaced the intimate interactions within most American families.  Family conversations have been replaced by texting sessions.  Family activity time has given way to countless hours of Internet surfing resulting in disconnected families.

Which reminds me of the worried mother’s comment to her teenage son as he slips through the door in the wee hours of the morning,  “would it kill you to update your Twitter status if you’re going to stay out so late?” 

Not that social networking is bad in itself, but
there is a dangerous trend to allow cyber relationships to replace true family interaction.  Cyber technology is hindering the ability of our children to develop social skills and nurture interpersonal relationships. Our children express their passive and aggressive feelings through friending and unfriending, through following and unfollowing. 

And there are side effects of social media, both positive and negative.   A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones.  What our children are subjected to online may be inappropriate.  Thirteen years is the age set by Congress in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits web sites from collecting information of children without parental permission and to sign up and have a profile on sites such as Facebook and MySpace (American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report).  But there are many sites for preadolescents without age restrictions. While online harassment is not so common among children, cyber-bullying can occur to any young person online to potentially cause profound psychosocial effects such as depression, anxiety and even suicide.  Children may not understand privacy issues, and that what goes online, stays online.  Their future jobs and college acceptance may be at risk by their naïve and impulsive use of a mouse.  Undirected Internet activity can make children and teens an easy target for marketers and charlatans.

On the other hand, social media brings people together that would never have met otherwise.  These connections give our children something to talk about.  They are able to exchange ideas to enhance their creativity.  They gain a larger perspective of what is happening around them because of the vast audience of cyberspace.  They can stay connected with those who don’t live near, whether family or friend.  And connections are valuable. 

What can be done to promote the positive side of social networking while managing the negative aspects?  I propose that the age COPPA has set that prohibits web sites from gathering our children’s information and service for popular sites be raised to sixteen years of age.
Parents need to take charge in balancing family communication and social media by being involved in which sites their kids are on, making sure they are appropriate.  We need to educate ourselves in order to protect our children.  Parents need to enforce time limits on cyber activities by setting aside time for family interaction.  Spending time together in family dinner conversations and recreation will help our families experience real life action. Parents need to put family first and demote on-line friends appropriately to safeguard the great value and power that comes from a unified family.


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    1. Well said! My thoughts exactly. You have my vote!

  2. A note for Jennifer, Hilary and Kirsten- in a political speech you need to get to the point -quick! have your central point. Then make them laugh to establish some kind of rapport with the audience. Get the audience on your side by trying to make them identify and sympathize with you early on so they will want to hear what you say.
    In the heart of your speech, keep it simple and make your point. "here is the problem, here is why it is terrible, and here is what we can do to make things better.

  3. Thank you Dawn, for the email and for this example! It helped me a lot when writing mine. Also, I really like the points you make about it being good sometimes and bad others, I agree with everything you're saying.

  4. I really like this because its easy to understand and we are seeing it more and more. There was an article a while back ago that a babies didn't know what to do with a magazine because it was used to an iPad. I observed in a kindergarten classroom with a couple of other students and the teacher told us that the kids have a hard time with writing, talking, and looking at each other. Technology can be good, but it can also be bad