Be Mindful the Next Time You Click Like or Share

By Blog Director: Cristina Coreas

If you would have told me 15 years ago how easy it would be to access pretty much any type of information with the touch of a button I wouldn’t have believed you.  We have come such a long way in our technical world and we constantly and rapidly continue to enhance this way. We can do just about anything through the use of technology; look up a recipe, access directions to a specific location, write a research paper, or even create your own detergent by using Pinterest! ( never tried that by the way) If you would have told me 15 years ago that I could see my family through an Ipad,  first I would have asked, “What in the world is an Ipad??” and then I would have thought how cool, but maybe not in my lifetime.  But it is in my lifetime, and it is so crazy how technology is very much a part of our everyday lives. And however grateful I am to have access to anything and everything with a touch of a few keystrokes; I find it to be somewhat detrimental as well, especially when we think about our social networking sites. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram; whether it be through our television sets, Ipads, tablets, or phones, our access to the world and what is going on around it is at the reach of our finger tips.  Yes, this is amazing but if we are not vigilant it can hinder the way our kids think and react, twist our perception of things, and affect the relationship with those around us.

Not too long ago, I can recall a video clip I was watching on FB that left me speechless and practically frozen in disgust.  It was a video about two young teenage girls pounding at each others faces and dragging one another to the floor as people stood and watched and did nothing to stop it except for pull out their phones and press record.  I’m almost embarrassed to say I watched this ‘til the end and as I watched halfway through the video two young spectators that were no older than 8 yrs of age began to fight exactly the same way the older girls were fighting in the video.  Do you think anyone stopped them in the middle of their tracks? Of course not. They egged those little girls on just as much as they did the older ones and no one thought to stop and say enough.  I sat in front of my computer feeling discouraged, and angry at what I was watching. I recall seeing so many likes and shares on that ridiculous video, and I read so many comments of people who were basically cheering the girls on for their crazy acts; and if they weren’t doing that, they were getting angry about someone else’s comment and starting their own fights on that same thread.

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http://www.officialpsds.com/images/thumbs/Girls-Fights-psd85582.png

I know most of us know what I am talking about because I’m sure if you have a social media account you have encountered at one point or another, the source of negativity that stems from certain posts. It just seems so easy now a days for people to become verbally judgmental of others behind their computer screens. It seems so easy for people to become bullies and spit hatred towards complete strangers. It seems so easy because we don’t see the damage it causes others and how it will affect them in the long run. People don’t think twice about what they say.  They don’t think twice and they should because we are modeling this behavior to many younger generations.  I sat there watching this  video,  and these thoughts kept running through my mind…not only were those people who recorded and posted this video to blame for using the violence as a form of entertainment, but so were the people who were sharing this, liking this, and commenting on this.   I mean if I am able to see this then how many kids or teenagers who have a social media account are watching this? How many kids are seeing this as their everyday norm?  And its obvious we have become so desensitized to it all because of the amount of times we see it in a day in various forms of social media.  So does this affect us?  Does this affect our children? The answer is, OF COURSE!

According to Pediatrics, the official journal of American Pediatrics, youth spends an average of seven hours per day using media and by the age of 18, the average adolescent will have seen an estimated 200,000 acts of violence on television alone!  I read about a study that showed a dramatic increase in violence on popular PG-13 movies over the past ten years.  According to the article, there is actually more gun violence in PG-13 movies than in R-rated movies.  And according to social learning theory, children and adolescents learn by observing and imitating what they see on the screen, particularly when these behaviors seem realistic or are rewarded.  And you might be thinking…social media is not entirely to blame for our actions because we do have free will and common sense (most of us). But like it or not it does have an impact.  In fact so much so, the exposure to violent acts through the screen are considered as high a health risk as smoking is to cancer!!! I don’t know about you but I know that I don’t want my daughter being exposed to any of the garbage I see posted on these different media sites let alone imitating anything I see on them.

And it isn’t just the kids we should be cautious of eliminating violent social media exposure to, it’s ourselves as well. In that same article, I also read that researchers had asked 1,000 parents of pre-teens and teenagers to watch a series of movie clips one after another. For each clip, parents recorded the minimum age at which they would be comfortable allowing their child to view the movie.  At first, most of the parents rated the violent scenes and the sex scenes as appropriate for 17-year-olds, but by the last clip in the series, parents considered scenes of a similar level of violence and sex, appropriate for 14-year-olds! By the end of the sequence they also reported more willingness to have their own child view the movie.  Unbelievable? Sad to say not really surprised.  So however much more mature we might be to watch the things we watch, we should also be wary that we are not being influenced by the media. Because the last thing you want to wind up being is the boiled frog.  You know, so desensitized that you can’t feel the boiling hot water until it’s too late?  Unfortunately, the way media exposes us to all of the negativity out there we are becoming desensitized  as a whole,  but we can be proactive about this and limit how much negativity on social media we come in contact with.

We CAN Be a source of change.  I’m not saying to keep your kids living under a rock and I’m not saying that social media is the devil and we should completely rid ourselves of it because there are plenty of great things that are accomplished through social media.  What I am saying is to be vigilant and be proactive.  Actively monitor what your kids are watching, and if you see things on social media that are negative or aren’t enhancing your personal growth, turn it off, don’t press like, don’t share and definitely don’t comment.  Keep on moving on.   Because when we do our part and ignore or boycott the negative crap out there the less we will see of it and the less our kids and young adults see of it too. Just think about that the next time you click like or share on something posted.

Signing off until next time…And in the wise ways of those three famous fabulous monkeys,

see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,  at least most of the time

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