Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and so on. This list is endless – Apps that provide a means for communication and can also provide negative experiences. In the hopes of gaining popularity, watching inappropriate videos and seeking approval, our children are unknowingly encouraging the “Rise of the Social Cyber-Bully”. A workshop held in November by Chinmaya Mission Raleigh-Durham(CMRDU) with the objective to bring awareness to parents and teenagers of the pressing threats of social media and gaming apps.
Our guest Natalie Wood Riché, an outreach specialist from the North Carolina Department of Justice revealed the numerous apps that target children. Dating apps such as Yubo and Tinder are where Cyber Predators, not always adults, find their prey. They aim to groom, control behaviors, and ultimately play with the minds of this young population. Amongst others that are harmful for teens are Vaulty and Hicalculator where kids can hide all their pictures and videos. Ms Natalie encouraged parents on how to monitor their kids by not allowing devices in the child’s room, take devices away from time to time to investigate usage and set boundaries such as time usage on their devices. Free resources for parents to monitor were also shared including Circle with Disney, Outpact, App Circle and Kids Place.
The workshop continued with CMRDU’s Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYKs) – young adults who graduated from the Balvihar Program in Raleigh. They echoed Swami Chinmayananda’s words “Culture is taught and not caught”. Neel Mandavilli, Hiren Gihwala and Lavanya Rao expressed the significance of what being exposed to the spiritual culture in Balvihar meant for them. Facing fears, gaining confidence, not needing to gain approval and being content with one’s image were what they learned from this culture and was an instrumental part of their lives to deal with social issues such as bullying.
Our final speaker, Vivekji, Niagara Canada, highlighted that Cyber-Bullies are isolated individuals. We, the community, should understand that these individuals did not have good role models. He encouraged us to be that role model to others in the community and help them grow. Most discussion in the workshop was on the ways to maintain healthy habits with social media and gaming. These include these six sutras, or thread of words:
1) Use social media in the moral am (3am – 9am) when our intellect is most productive.
2) Use social media in public, not alone or isolated.
3) Use social media as a pre-paid means. Keep track of how much time you spend with social media. Our usage will be much more disciplined.
4) Distract the mind with reading. Choose reading instead of socializing on media.
5) Distract the body with walking. Choose walking to relax your body.
6) Use text for planning, not for socializing.
A warm heartfelt thanks went out to our speakers for spending their time on imparting this invaluable knowledge.
Stay tuned for our next workshop soon.
Chinmaya Mission Raleigh, NC.