My kids are in their 20’s, so Lauree and I did not have to deal with the issues around social media when our boys were teenagers. So, the only experience I have is from coaching teenagers over the past 8 years as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, now Snapchat have grown to a one click away issue for young men.
As a coach and very active social media business guy, I know that social media tools can be a big benefit. You can get information and fun stuff to players, teammates, fans, etc.. very quickly and in a manner that allows for interaction. As a coach, I use it a lot. Players can use it a lot to keep in touch and be a bigger part of each others lives. I stay in touch with current and past players all the time using social media tools.
But, just like everything related to the internet and remote communications, there is a dark side. These tools are very dangerous if used inappropriately, especially in the hands of teenagers. Face it, teenage boys do not have a lot of common sense. They struggle with rational decisions. This eventually will get better at some point. But, even really good kids can make really bad decisions.
So, mix bad judgement with social media and the result is potentially dangerous. Recent news captures some extreme examples. A lot of stupid stuff can happen quickly, and as soon as parents and authorities get involved, things get out of control. It cannot get to that point.
I am now adding this to my series of talks to teenage players, along with the “girl talk” and the drugs/alcohol talk. It is the same basic message:
- Everything in life is a choice that you alone make.
- Be responsible for your own actions
- Recognize that your actions have consequences, to yourself and others
I recently attended a social media conference in California– everyone who is anyone in social media was there. My net takeway was this — it’s the Wild West and will be for another decade. As parents and coaches, we need to help our kids navigate through the Wild West, to wear white hats not black, to stay out of the saloons and never, ever touch somebody else’s horse.