We hear a lot about social media these days. Some famous person said something silly, or stupid, or controversial. Or even worse, posted a picture of themselves that they will later regret. But social media can also be used for social betterment, not just for gossip and drama.
Kids Know all About Social Media
Kids know all about social media, but parents may not. “Social media” is all of the stuff on the internet (which is also accessible on “smart” phones) by which you can interact with other people. This includes talking, texting, chatting, blogging, pictures, video, etc. There are many different social media options you can check out, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, to name just a few. You can check these out for yourself.
The younger generations are heavily involved with social media, which has basically become part of their everyday lives. Kids today are much more connected than the older generations, who might have waited weeks to get a letter through the mail. Now you get instantaneous pictures, videos, and text.
Using Social Media
Parents can use social media to help in the fight against drug addiction. You can post what your kids found out in their drug education class at school. You can tell about successful treatment programs. You can, if given permission, tell someone’s story of their recovery. You can share information that other people have posted about their recoveries. You can talk about facts you’ve found out, like “I never knew that drugs were poisons!” The main thing in communicating with kids is to not come across as “preachy”, but to let them know that you are there to help and answer questions. And some of us may have had some experiences in life that would be valuable to share with kids!
If you have a drug abuse prevention program or organization, there is useful information on the internet on how to develop a social media plan to support your efforts. As an organization, you need to be consistent, and stay up-to-date, because things change quickly on the internet. People are always looking for something new and different. Do you remember “MySpace”? It was the “Facebook” before Facebook, and has now dropped almost completely out of sight. Also, recent statistics are starting to show that teenagers are using Facebook less. Some other social media option will come along to replace Facebook, so if you are using social media, you will have to keep up with the latest trend.
Given that social media is generally open to the public, there is the possibility that you could get negative comments on some of the things you post. There are those in the world that oppose people recovering from addiction—drug dealers, for example. There are also people who ridicule others or who try to make less of one’s accomplishments. Some people make posts full of profanity just for the shock value.
Fortunately, some social media sites give you control over the comments that others post on your entries. Facebook and YouTube, for example, allow you to remove other people’s comments from your posts. What about freedom of speech, you might ask? That relates to the old philosophical question: what is the greatest good for the greatest number? In other words, if we are trying to improve conditions in society, such as eliminating drug addiction, do negative comments help at all? Can anyone ever say there is anything good about drug addiction? Positive, affirming, helpful comments that validate a person’s journey away from addiction and through recovery are what are needed.
SAMHSA: Developing a Social Media Plan to Support Substance Abuse Prevention Efforts