The William Glasser Institute offers insights about human nature that has practical application for raising tech-savvy kids. Glasser’s Choice Theory describes how every individual has command and control over thoughts and actions, while feelings and the physiological responses (the senses and emotions) to life’s events and experiences individuals do not control -they just happen. This means that we can easily be deceived by the feelings inspired by experiences on and off line.
As this relates to youth navigating the social network, there is a profound understanding that must be imparted to children. The prevalence of cyber communications in the social and educational experiences of youth can easily enable peer communities to become a single point of reference for life, and the capacity to discern knowledge (which is neutral and does not care) from wisdom (which is the application of knowledge to respect the specific needs of an individual) is more likely to become disabled without proper education.
Some examples of lies in the social network include:
- I am not loveable unless I send a nude photo of myself.
- The number of “likes” I get in reply to my post validates me.
- I am invisible without a profile on Instagram, Twitter or SnapChat.
- I cannot fit in or stop the pain without drugs and alcohol.
- The voice behind the stranger’s photo cares about me
- Alcohol is safe as long as you don’t get behind the wheel.
- I have no future, no hope. There is no point in going on living.
Hence thought leadership at home that educates children about taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions is more important than ever, because a lie can become a real experience murdering the truth, if you allow it in your own mind. Now more than ever, what you choose to believe and act upon matters.
Below are some conversation tips for talking with youth about their own personal reactions to their experiences on and off line.
- Encourage your child to talk to you when things happen that disturb their peace because usually there is untruthful thinking on the part of your child or others involved. Anchor your conversations about truth to the eternal truths of your chosen faith.
- Explain the fact that there is a lot of fear and fakery in the world, and so the best way to recognize a lie when you feel anxious or torments you.
- Kids do not want to be duped. The only way to avoid being duped by bullies (who try to convince you that you are small or need to put down others in order to be whole), or other people who want to get something from you that makes you uncomfortable (sending nude photos or making purchases of items you don’t need or cannot afford), is to examine the feeling and the thought behind the feeling before you act.
When we recognize that the only control we have as individuals are our thoughts and actions, and that our physiological and emotional reactions to things that are happening can be very convincing, (such as cyber bullying or the seductive lure of a pedophile appealing to your child’s emotional need to be desired and accepted), it is possible to train children to be self-governing in the social network and in the flesh.