Using Electronic Modalities to Stay Connected at a Distance

Due to COVID-19 our lives and the lives of our children have become extremely virtual. Children are interacting more with others using their cell phones, social media, and virtual platforms.However, many childrenand young adultsdo not understand or demonstrate the social skills needed to appropriately interact through this new venue.

Parents have an opportunity tohelp teach their children how to properly interact virtually to enhance theiracademic achievement and social interactions.These skills also deal with real-life situations which the children may encounter inthe future during employment and community interactions.

When speaking with your children about these subjectshave fun!Modalitiessuch as social media, texting, and virtual gatheringsallow children to maintain relationships and feel included regardless of disability or distance.

Here are some topics parentsmay want to address with their child:

  1. Don’t message or friendpeople you don’t personally know (e.g., “Stranger Danger” applies to text and social medial too);
  2. Discuss what is appropriate to put on social media and what should not be placed on social media (e.g., dangers of sexting, anything that could be perceived as a threat/cyberbullying);
  3. Teach about the lack of confidentiality with anything posted on social media (e.g., texts can be copied and sent to others without your permission—screenshots happen);
  4. Always double check the recipient of your message because you don’t want your message to go to the wrong person, especially with group texts;
  5. Teach when is it appropriate/inappropriate to text (e.g., professional vs. casual communication) or be on your phone (e.g., at work, talking to elders, on a date) because itis important to focus on the person in front of you;
  6. Beware of word correction/autocorrect and check message before sending a message;
  7. Explain virtual etiquette (e.g., using all capital letters or excessive exclamation points could mean you are upset/yelling);
  8. Teach the meaning of the different emojis;
  9. Teach about making threats or bullying by emojis(e.g., possible perceived emojis threats include skull and crossbones, knife, etc.);and
  10. Teach whatcommonly usedabbreviations mean(e.g., LOL, OMG,BTW, OMW, etc.).

Marian A. Lowther, M.S., CCC-SLP