Social Media Sharing: A Community Guide

Steward technology experts weigh in on the best ways to approach, monitor children’s social media usage.

How can we teach children to extend the empathy and kindness they practice with others to their use of social media?

Mrs. Karmolinski: In Lower School, we introduce “netiquette” and cyberbullying in first and second grades. We talk about politeness and kindness to others, even when we are just looking at a screen and not a real person. We talk about the how we treat people in the “real world” and how that needs to transfer to the “online world.” We teach these basic social skills on a daily basis in Lower School and so I am hoping that by introducing the concepts of netiquette and cyberbullying early, it will help students to develop the empathy and kindness needed to link the real world with the online world, to understand that there is always a person behind that anonymous screen name, and to treat others with the kindness and respect that we expect of all of our students daily.

Mr. Brannon: As parents model responsible and healthy behaviors for children offline, they should do so online also. Perhaps surprisingly, psychologist Dr. Michele Borba recommends joining social media, friending your children, and posting selfies occasionally to connect with them and to subtly demonstrate best practices. She also recommends checking in about questionable social-media posts, encouraging them to ask questions like “What would I do if Grandma heard about this?” or “Could this damage my relationships or reputation, or might I regret it later?”

Mrs. Ricketts: I think that unless it is expressly pointed out, many people, children as well as adults, are unaware of how remote communication styles differ from face-to-face communication. Without the feedback of subtle cues of body language and voice modulation, we have a skewed understanding of how our messages are being received. We risk sending out digital messages that have the potential to be hurtful, without ever receiving any feedback to let us know their effect. There is an art to remote communication, much like the lost art of letter writing.

Click on each question below to view responses from our technology experts:





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