Just because someone tells me to fear something doesn’t mean that I have to. The internet is spying on you. Your microwave is watching! Silliness aside, we are a culture of media projecting fear and I wonder how that’s playing out with our students and kids. I wonder how often they are feeling anxious because they’ve heard this or that about our world. The fear comes on fast and strong as we bait click on some horrific news footage or another, transforming our calm emotional state into one of fear, negativity and futility.

I may just be the perfect victim to this kind of fear mongering, always offering some bit of news I read the benefit of the doubt, in case there’s some veracity to it. I want to stay on top of things and ensure, as much as I can, that I’m informed, safe and okay. Doesn’t everyone pretty much want that assurance? So, I’m falling prey to the fear that is ubiquitous online. If I so quickly fall victim to this kind of catastrophizing, then how are our youth handling this?

What can we do to help our kids protect themselves against falling prey to fear based information? I suggest we talk about it with them. Taking it a bit further, we can actually surf the net with them, digging deep into information we read about in order to determine if what we are absorbing is necessary or harmful. Let’s face it, they don’t need to be learning about everything that’s available to them online; they are simply too young to process it. So, it’s important to have discussions about why and how we acquire information and how to fact find. It’s crucial that they develop awareness about the kind of targeted advertising that’s influencing the ‘news’ articles on their feeds, and that they have the choice to either click or delete.

It’s valuable to check in with ourselves when we are not attached to any device to notice how we feel in that moment. Another idea is to sit and breathe for a minute when we come across something particularly upsetting. Let’s not move forward mindlessly, allowing our devices and the scary ‘news’ it reports to control us. Instead, let’s mindfully take time to witness ourselves as we skim the latest news feed, realizing that we can choose what we focus on in any given moment. Practices like this can certainly help us live a less fearful life in a time in history which is, admittedly, quite scary.

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