We are so fortunate to have the wonderful Andy Braner sharing some of his vast wisdom with us today. Andy is not only passionate about raising up the generations, but has such great handle on the pulse of adolescents and teens. I for one am grateful and am thrilled that he’s spreading the wealth. Enjoy. And please check out Andy’s stuff including his new book Alone:Finding Connection in a Lonely World.
I’ve been working with teenagers and parents for the last 15 years. Learning to communicate current trends, current language, and current habits is difficult for those of us who grew up in a different time.
I was talking with some parents the other day, and it occurred to me
- Facebook has only been around since 2004
- YouTube has only been around since 2003
- Google has only been around since the late 90’s
- And before the mid 90’s, if you had a cell phone, you were considered a drug dealer.
It’s an amazing time we live in.
The Information Age has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we do education, and not the least of which; it has transformed the way we communicate in daily lives.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to even think about a time in history where we couldn’t just hit a text, email a friend, or google and answer.
I was talking to a group of parents the other day, trying my best to help them understand, students don’t know a life without all these communication avenues. Our conversation led to one of the most troubling trends at the High School today, Bullying.
One parent asked, “How do I know if my kid is being bullied?”
And I stopped to make sure I incorporated all I had just talked about.
You see, 10 years ago, a student at the high school might be bullied, but he had a chance to leave the school at 3:30 and it would end. Today, a kid can be bullied at school, and then when he goes home, there’s a vein called Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google Plus that follows them wherever they go.
The group dynamics have also changed.
Bullying 10 years ago was contained to a certain group size.
As social media has connected us all, Today, bullying can go viral. In an instant, what was meant to only be a comment or snarky remark, can be shared with the whole school, and all the schools in the area.
So when I answered this parent, I wanted to make sure there was a simple, understandable, practical answer she could use in her family TODAY!!
“Just be sure to talk EARLY and OFTEN!” is what came out of my mouth. Halfway not knowing where that comment came from, because I’ve never said that before, and halfway thinking to myself, that was pretty good; I went on to explain…
“You have to be sure you have an open pipeline with your kids. Talk to them when you take them to school. Talk to them when they come home. Talk to them at dinner. Take them out for special activities. Walk with them in the part. Spend time talking. And at every turn, be sure you’re taking inventory of where they are. If they say something like, ‘a kid said something mean to me,’ that may be the only red flag you’ll get to act.
Make sure you watch their grade performance at school. If anything changes dramatically, you need to start investigating the why’s.
If your students likes to play sports, and for some unknown reason looses interest quickly, you might have a problem.
Or if all of the sudden they want to just hide away in bed and never emerge from the teenage dungeon of their room, it would be a good idea to start talking about possible issues. ”
I could see the group beginning to develop some synergy of ideas.
Certainly, if your student exhibits any of these issues, it doesn’t mean he or she has a problem, but if you can talk to your kids EARLY and OFTEN and look for potential shifts in behavior, you can start seeing the bully problem before it becomes a tragedy.
Andy Braner, President KIVU, Author: ALONE, Finding Connection in a Lonely World, is an ordained youth minister and former president of Kanakuk Colorado. Currently, he is the president of KIVU, a ministry that teaches Christian worldview principles to teens and college students in the context of outdoor adventures. Each year, Andy speaks to more than 80,000 teens and college students all over the world. His message centers around training global leaders to love God and love others.