Teens: Keep it classy online

Empowered Flower Girl helps parents navigate social media with Social Secrets workshop
Empowered Flower Girl helps parents navigate social media with Social Secrets workshop

I often wonder do teens truly understand the impact of their social interactions. In particular, how their online activities and interactions affect their chances of getting into college, hired for internships and scholarships.

With today’s competitive job market, teens should be conscious of their digital footprint. We’re not trying to thwart freedom of expression and opinion, but we encourage young people to think before they tweet.

Some corporations and even college admissions staff are turning to social networking to evaluate and recruit employees and students.

From posting expletive-filled rants and inappropriate photos to retweeting explicit lyrics from popular songs, we’ve seen it all.

As parents, aunts, uncles, mentors and educators we must have conversations with our school-aged relatives and students about how they’re using social media.

We encourage youth to use social media for good and as a learning tool. But we also have an obligation to help them become responsible, conscious social citizens.

Beyond Bullying Prevention: The end of bullying begins with empathy and compassion

End of BullyingBy Rasheda Kamaria

Empowered Flower Girl aims to inspire, entertain and empower youth, communities and families with our programs and online content. This month, National Bullying Prevention Month, I want to go a little further. I want to challenge everyone who reads this post to reach out to a young person and have an authentic conversation about . . . whatever. But what I challenge you to do more than anything, is listen.

Perhaps you’ve read recent headlines about the 14-year-old Florida boy, who after being “bullied his whole life,” committed suicide. Media outlets across the nation reported that the Greenwood Lakes Middle School student’s lifeless body was found in the school’s bathroom. He and his family had reportedly moved from New York to Florida because of bullying.

My heart aches and breaks. Not only for this young man but also for the countless others that we may know or have read about this year who have taken their lives to escape the agony of being harassed and taunted daily. Perhaps us as community leaders, educators, parents and everyday citizens can listen more to our children (and by our children I mean all children).

I believe it’s time we shift from bullying prevention to encouraging and instilling empathy, compassion and acceptance in schools, communities and families.

Rasheda Kamaria is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise that works with schools, communities and families seeking solutions to cyberbullying, drama, relational aggression and other social/communication challenges facing youth. A survivor of bullying, Kamaria was featured in the article “Being Bullied Changed My Life” in the May 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and has spoken and written numerous articles on the subject.