What’s it like to be an American girl in 2016? Nancy Jo Sales’ new book, “American Girls,” has ignited an important mainstream conversation with recent features on ABC News, the New York Times and Time. The book paints a gruesome portrait of how girls are using social media to tear each other (and themselves) down.
So, now what?
Outside my work at McKinney, I coach high schools and teenage students on how to win the game of social media. The students are always surprised to hear an adult show them how they can use social media positively and powerfully:
● Imagine a young girl showing college admission officers that she’s talented beyond words and more than just an SAT score because she shares her passions and hobbies on Instagram — where she has built a network of supportive girlfriends.
● Imagine a college student showing future employers his strengths and skills based on Google results of his name pulled from social media posts sharing his successes and encouragements of others.
● Imagine a teenage girl who is confident enough to be exactly herself because of the stories she follows posted by her mentors and positive role models on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Trust me, those role models are out there.
Teens need to know that you can “win” the game of social media or you can “lose” it. It’s just a game, and it’s positive power can only be wielded if we coach them effectively.