Parenting In a Social Technology Minefield

I'm posting for 60 days straight, leading up to my early December birthday, and I'm making the time to write on behalf of slain UCC Professor and aspiring novelist, Larry Levine.

We kicked off a community screening series of our film, Raising the TXT Generation, tonight in the northern Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody. And as hoped, it prompted an incredibly passionate post-screening discussion on the range of issues raised in the film:

  • Tweens / teens behavior and actions with social media, apps, and communication, and their general lack of consideration on possible emotional or legal outcomes of their comments posted or images sent.
  • The challenges of keeping up to date on the latest apps, given the hectic lives today's dual-income parents are leading, especially with kids engaged in after school sports, clubs, etc.
  • Range of apps tweens and teens are using to communicate and ongoing challenges in attempting to monitor them. We present an app in the film that helps alert parents to 'Banned Content' but it's fiction at this stage, just used for storytelling purposes. Apps discussed specifically include Kik, Snapchat, Instagram, AskFM, and Facebook.
  • The possible legal ramifications on the possession, distribution, or creation of pornographic imagery. Which led to discussion around the legal definition of pornography.
    • I was grateful to have local criminal defense attorney Bernard Brody attend with a former GBI Agent, now Investigator supporting his firm. They're dealing with these kinds of cases frequently and have further frightening insight into the ramifications of sexting cases.
    • Mr. Brody was quick to present a primary issue with the law at both the federal and Georgia state level: Sexual consent is legally granted at age 16. Those who engage in 'pornography' -- which has included nude selfies, for example -- must be 18 at both the Federal and State level. So legally, two people can engage in sex after 16 but can not possess pictures or imagery until 18. Which clearly is a contradiction that needs to be addressed legislatively.
  • I was also thrilled to have Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan attend and lend a voice as a parent and local community leader.

After months and months of effort, it's incredibly gratifying to start these screenings and help kick-off these conversations amongst parents and families. We're also thrilled that CNN and Anderson Cooper have recently turned their investigative resources toward this issue with their new documentary #Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens. It's a disturbing but very insightful view at the larger issues of social media as status and self-image driving online behavior.

More to follow. And if interested in hosting a local screening and discussion, contact me using the button above!

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