• Thriving Black Mom

4 Essential Tech Talk Topics for Parents and Teens in 2021

black child smiling with laptop and school workbook
Which channels are influencing your little one?

Lately, it feels like our world is sinking deeper into the depths of idiocy. From physically dangerous Tik Tok challenges to YouTubers stuffing their faces with pounds of greasy food in one sitting, many of the things taking place on the internet are quite shocking and, unfortunately, highly influential. Here are 4 important topics to discuss with your children in 2021.

Clout Chasing Can be Sticky Business

The recent media frenzy surrounding a woman’s social media documentation of the aftermath of using a Gorilla Glue product on her hair is beyond distressing. Tessica’s use of the heavy-duty adhesive resulted in a visit to the ER, extensive media attention, and multiple offers of help from major brands, notable hairstylists, and at least one plastic surgeon. Despite many Instagram comments indicating people do not believe this was a mistake, donations have already reached over $20K.

No one seems to know whether this was truly a mistake or a stunt gone wrong. Either way, our dear sister is now suffering. While we are thankful that she has received donations to help repair her scalp, this woman’s story (if simply a stunt gone wrong), can be viewed as yet another example of how a viral moment can lead to a big payday. Even if you think your child is smart enough to know better, having a direct conversation to ensure they understand the dangers behind attention-seeking behaviors is essential.

Seeking Viral Fame Can Also be Deadly

How many stories have we heard in recent years of kids trying a challenge or a prank that results in them losing their lives? Too many to count, for sure. The recent death of a young man pulling a robbery prank on a group of people is a very sad example of when chasing the bag goes wrong. Social media personalities often do idiotic things to get views, even though it may be against content policies. If your child has a channel, you should be talking with them regularly about their content to ensure they are heading in the right direction and not doing stupid things for “fame.” If your child simply watches others’ content, be sure to explain that much of the behaviors they observe are for entertainment and are NOT normal in the course of living.

Internet shutdowns are trending upward

In recent years, governments in many nations have decided to shut down internet access in all or some parts of their countries. While government officials argue that this is necessary to stop the spread of misinformation, citizens are convinced otherwise. If you think the U.S. is far removed from extreme government behaviors observed elsewhere, you are sadly mistaken. This country is not the shining beacon of hope it portrays to the world, and evidence of this is everywhere. The U.S. is definitely not beyond silencing its people for its own selfish benefit. Encourage your teens to understand potential threats to our freedom of expression. In helping your child use the internet and various apps responsibly, they must be able to understand that the internet can also be shut down at the will of leadership.

Phone apps are designed for addictive use

The algorithms used by the most popular apps, like Tik Tok, Facebook, or YouTube, are recording every action we make to give us more of the content we crave. The point is to keep you on the app as long as possible. The PG-13 Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, is a great behind-the-scenes film for all humans. The film is perfect for parents of children with or without mobile devices of their own. For children younger than 13, we recommend pausing the film to further explain some concepts since the information is vital but may not be relayed in a way an 8-year-old cell phone user would easily understand. With many children growing up and not understanding that much of what they witness on social media is fake, or even abusive, parents must stay vigilant about helping youngsters determine how to use these tools responsibly. Many children are allowed to play with cell phones as early as they have the ability to hold their own bottle, so explaining how apps work is not only the responsible thing to do but a necessity in 2021.

Key Takeaways

Allowing your children to use the internet, in an unrestricted manner, has obvious consequences. However, the abundance of ridiculous and shocking stories on social media presents golden opportunities to teach kids, in age-appropriate conversations, about technology, why people are motivated to use the internet in certain ways, and how kids should and shouldn't interact with the content. We must not ignore the fact that many young people are falling victim to societal pressures via the internet. Thriving moms stay ALL UP IN their kid's business! Do you really know what your kids are watching?