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What Is Speak Up?
Children need to be actively taught and supported as they learn to be responsible and independent users of social media. We call this Speak Up.

We’ve all helped our children develop many skills over the years. Teaching them to be responsible, and eventually independent, social media users isn’t any different. 

Think back to when you taught your child to ride a bike.

Did you describe how balancing works, or did you put your child on a starter bike so they could practice?

Did you just talk about safety, or did you set an example by using safe bike riding practices?

When your child fell down did you tell them they should have known better? Or did you take the opportunity to help them learn from what went wrong?

When our kids started engaging with social media, we used parental controls, technology contracts, and warnings about online bullying and inappropriate content. But this felt like we were putting our kids on a bike with little or no practice or support.  Instead, we wanted to actively teach our children the skills of responsible social media use, but we had a hard time imagining how to do it because we had no model.

After giving it some thought, we realized we just needed to use the same time-tested teaching techniques that had come so naturally to us in other situations.  We could teach our children the Thumbs Down skills by being supportive, setting examples, thinking out loud, and helping them learn from their mistakes. 

We call this Speak Up:

1. Support Your Child:

Let your child know that they are part of a community that will help them learn.  Invite friends and family to engage with your child online. Encourage them to Speak Up if they see that your child needs more support in learning the Thumbs Down skills.  This is how you and your child can build a Trusted Team.

2. Set Examples:

Children are influenced by what you do. Use this Speak Up technique when you interact with your child online to show them how to use the Thumbs Down skills. This is called Modeling.

3. Think out loud:

Demystify your digital life. When you pick up your device in front of your child, do your writing and editing out-loud.  Speak Up and share your thoughts about how you communicate online.  Talk about the Thumbs Down skills you are using.  This is called Narrating.

4. Learn from Mistakes:

Integrating new skills takes time and practice. Let your child know that mistakes are part of the learning process. Speak Up when you notice a Thumbs Down skill has yet to be mastered. Work with your child to come up with new ways to move the learning process forward.  Make use of these Teachable Moments together.

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.