Relationship Status: It’s Complicated Presented by Kaleigh Cornelison-Stanovsky, LCSW
TPPP Members gathered on March 11th for our second professional development program of the year in our Healthy Adolescent Relationships series. Kaleigh Cornelison-Stanovsky lead the group in an interactive presentation on technology and how teens use it in their relationships. The group started off by discussing current social media platforms and apps that young people are using including: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Kik.
Kaleigh encouraged TPPP members to remember, and even highlight, the positive aspects of technology usage. We watched this short video entitled “Look Up” as an example of how adult educators often think of technology. However, teens are using technology to create many positive interactions and we can acknowledge that while helping them assess the risks and decide when/how to protect themselves.
Some examples of teens creating their own space in the virtual world include:
While all teens can have positive online experiences and relationships, some teens benefit from connecting with people outside of their home/community because they may feel isolated, misunderstood or even threatened. The group created a list that included rural teens, LGBTQ+ individuals and those with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
Kaleigh presented information from the Missouri Statutes on including technology in sexuality education classes and data from a 2015 Pew Research Survey. She also provided examples of videos that could be used with young people to discuss issues they may face when using technology. Below are links to some of those videos.
One of the take-aways from this professional development meeting was that we can all incorporate positives and negatives of technology into our programs so that they are relatable to teens. We can also help teens build their critical-thinking and decision-making skills so that they have safe and healthy online relationships. Program participants discussed several scenarios where teens faced serious challenges due to technology use, including sexting, bullying and online harassment. Staying as neutral as possible, acknowledging the real consequences of online actions and addressing both the physical safety and mental health of teens in these scenarios were all important concepts that came out of the discussions.