Turning technology inside out

Last weekend my two kids, ages 11 and 7, wanted to sleep outside on the hilltop behind our house–in the middle of winter, no tent, by themselves, on Nat. Forest land, without Dad along.

I think  most parents reaction would be “What, are you crazy?!?!”

And sensing that these may be the words about to come out of my mouth, Anna quickly said “I’ll have my cell phone with, Dad, and I’ll call you if anything bad happens.”

Yeah, right, I thought to myself, so I can quick come and see what’s left of you after the pack of coyotes, or the hungry mountain lion, had a late-night dinner.

But, then I stopped to think about this request in the bigger picture of fostering independence, skill-building, and instilling a love of the outdoors in my kids.  And, I said “Yes.”

The cell phone was the key piece of this.  But now I am thinking about how much I curse cell phones and other high technology for it’s part in the world of bullying.  They are powerful tools for spewing hate and rumors placed in the hands of quick-thumbed bullies, and schools accross the country are groaning as they attempt to keep their internet policies up to date with the latest on-line strategies for gossipping, rumoring, and hurting.

So, what if we were to fight fire with fire?  What if we use these tools to help students who are being picked on?  What if we show them how to use the tools to stay safe and be empowered?

I’m thinking things like this:

  • A cell phone circle where kids who are being picked on can check in with each other
  • School counselors texting students during the school day as a way to check in with them
  • Online support group for victims of bullying
  • A membership-only blog that works like a virtual diary, alowing authors to vent, and others to read and see that they are not alone.
  • Victims could text school admin quietly and quickly when placed in a situation demanding adult intervention.

You get the idea.  Of course this is no substitute for real human interaction, but it could really help increase connction and that sense of “You’re not in this alone, sweetie…”

I’d love to hear from you if you have been experimenting with these new types of approaches.  If I receive enough traffic about this, I’ll compile all the ideas and send them back out to everyone.

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