On Saturday, July 25th, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas hosted a Sister-to-Sister workshop entitled Girl Talk – My Cyber Life. The program, presented by GENaustin (Girls Empowerment Network), was designed to help girls learn how to make the most of social media, while avoiding some of its darker and more troubling aspects.
“Social media impacts our lives a lot,” said Miranda, a Little Sister who attended the program. “We will all continue to use it because technology keeps advancing so much, so it’s important to learn how to use it appropriately.”
Appropriate use was the focus, as over 20 Bigs and Littles gathered to listen to information on how our online lives impact our real lives. Specific instruction was given on how to handle difficult situations that can arise.
GENaustin Program Coordinator Claudia Arellano led the group in a discussion of the challenges and benefits of social media. Challenges the girls noted and discussed included lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and the use of social media as a substitute for personal interaction. The benefits they listed included using social media as an educational tool, as entertainment, and as a way to stay in contact with family and friends.
The group then reviewed some cyber-specific terms such as “digital footprint,” “online cruelty,” “online identity,” and “online privacy.” After developing a common understanding of these terms, the girls examined a number of online scenarios and determined which situations were actually dangerous – such as someone posting inappropriate photos, and which might simply be considered forms of “drama” – such as being “un-friended” online.
“We have to watch what we post, and think about how it might impact our future success,” Miranda concluded. This sentiment was echoed in a list of recommendations attendees created regarding how to use social media wisely.
Their suggestions included:
- Every time you post something, think about who might see your post
- Nothing disappears online, so be careful what you put out there
- Think about how your post might impact a future job
- Try not to be too absorbed in social media
- Be careful who you add as a friend
“The mission of GENaustin is to support and guide girls in making wise decisions,” said Arellano. The Girl Talk – My Cyber Life program provided a great starting point for helping Little Sisters make wise decisions about how to use social media safely and effectively. Our thanks to GENaustin for partnering with us to present this important program.
Organized in 1996 by 12 concerned mothers raising adolescent girls in Austin, GENaustin’s mission is to support and guide girls in making wise choices and building self-esteem as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood. The Girls Empowerment Network offers a broad range of programs throughout Central Texas, including many after-school programs and camps. They also provide a ‘We Are Girls’ conference in Austin and will add a second conference in Houston this year. Last year’s Austin conference was attended by over 1700 girls. For more information about GENaustin, go to www.genaustin.org