This meme circulates Facebook’s global currents and resonates with me deeply.
I won’t go into details but I can say how grateful I am that my early days of drinking at a small NYC bar –aptly called the Village Idiot where a flash of your boobs would get you a free shot of bourbon –were survived back when a portable phone meant you could talk as far as the toilet with some minimal crackling on the line.
Sadly, I can’t rest in the knowledge that most of my mistakes were forgotten by all in the wake of our colossal hangovers. My anxiety surges as I contemplate our digital age. Watching my two little girls sat on the floor with legos, barbies, and a never ending stream of ‘treasure bits’ strewn around them, I can’t help but wonder how am I going to help them navigate their coming of age in a time of monitoring and documenting that would make the likes of Stalin green with envy?
I present to you my new bible: Kindness Wins by Galit Breen.
We’ve all heard the ‘kids are cruel’ mantra. I was made fun of relentlessly as a child for having large deformed ears. The missing fold created large chimp-like appendages poking through my thick hair. I never got to wear french braids or pigtails. My ballet teacher allowed me to just clip the front instead of a bun to spare me the ridicule. At least once I was home, I could escape the torment. Can you imagine the fun kids could have had making memes of me or posting pics and tagging me as Dumbo? I shudder to think what that would have been like.
This book is a manual to help you teach your kids kindness online but it’s also more than that. Through the advice it offers, it opens pathways to conversations over net safety and permanent effects of what we put online.
And it really is a manual! It is laid out with the ease of the reader in mind. Each chapter kicks off with a personal anecdote followed by three parts: Resources, Things to Talk About, and Takeaways.
The annecdotes are personal and may include comparisons of then and now. When relevant, Galit Breen uses screen captures to illustrate her points. She gives you tips on social media platforms including examples and instructions how to access and see some of the settings and information our kids look at that we are not looking for. I considered myself fairly saavvy and I learned a number of new things about instragram! I feel ahead of the curve now that I know about the practice of TBH, aka To Be Honest, posts as well as the tag/untag games and other potentially cruel behaviors happening.
Resources provides links to additional reading on the topic if you want to go deeper into a particular area.
Things to Talk About helps not only with what you should discuss but how to start the conversations. This is split in two sections. The first are the things to discuss with your kids. One example from the book is that every action has a reaction. What’s the purpose of yours? Is it kind? If it isn’t, then don’t post it. The second is what to discuss with your Peers. Safe and smart behavior on the net is best addressed as a community of parents. The more kids and parents on board, the easier it will become. Kindness begets kindness.
Takeaways gives you a nice bulleted summary to help drive home the key points.
From the chapter on refraining from talking about other people’s bodies to how to disagree online, this book covers so much ground. I am grateful for the help and I know that I will come back for guidance again and again over the years to come.
Thanks to my incorrigible procrastination, my review is well timed with a promotion next week. From the 24th to the 28th, the ebook will be available for just 99 cents!
I am also giving a way a copy! So enter now beacause, as a friend of mine who constantly won prizes told me when I asked her how she did it, “I entered!”
I hope you will consider sharing this post and promotion with fellow parents. I’d aregue even a few adults could use the lessons in this book!
I leave you with this wonderful quote by Lily Tomlin:
I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.
Let us be a sea of somebodys bringing forth a tidal wave of kindness upon our digital world.