As a father of four boys who are rapidly entering their teens, I am constantly reminded of how the platforms I use positively to make a living can at the same time have a negative effect on them and their development.
Unfortunately, all the discussion comes from think tanks or third parties and not from people like me or the builders of the platforms themselves. We all have a responsibility for the well being of others and I am lucky that I understand social media perhaps more than many parents do. But I worry that there is no discussion early enough with children when they are exposed to digital communication.
For example, when my eldest son started senior school, the school required him to have a laptop and mobile phone. Opening him up to the world online, to email, to texting and invariably to social media apps. But in his first two years, he hasn't received any real guidance or online safety advice. I realise that schools and teachers already have enough on their plate to contend with, but perhaps earlier education around social media could prevent many of the problems schools face further down the line with bullying, stress, anxiety and behaviour of their students?
Social media, like rock and roll, television and the internet in general, is the latest in a long line of experiences that can be blamed on corrupting our youth. But like those before it, it can also be used for tremendous good. Perhaps the responsibility for ensuring it's positive use and for educating our children on what it is and how to use it constructively falls to us social media practitioners, consultants, experts and personalities?
I for one, would be more than happy to get involved in school programs designed to discuss these issues with students of all ages and even their parents. If you're affected by these issues or perhaps have experienced them first hand, please let me know your thoughts. I'd be very interested to hear from you.
If you work in a school, I'd really like to talk to you too.