Imagine you're 9, have a smartphone, and see your friend's pics from a party you weren't invited to.

What is it like to be a 9-year-old with a smartphone?

This eye-opening TEDx talk may be a real aha moment for a lot of people raising kids.

Making sure your kid won't send naughty pictures or be mean to others on their smartphone is just as easy (HAHA) as making sure they don't drink underage or engage in risky sex-stuff. Frequent conversations and judgment-free real talk are the key.


And so is empathy.

"EMPATHY IS THE APP."

That's where Dr. Devorah Heitner believes it all begins.

Parents exercising empathy by getting in their children's shoes is the first step to help both groups navigate the big, scary world of technology.

But how? That's the million-dollar question.

Dr. Heitner suggests that parents try to understand all the technological experiences that kids are confronted with on a daily basis — not just the scary ones:

"What must it feel like to be 9 years old and watch all of your friends online be invited to a party that you weren't invited to? How does it feel for a 10-year-old to watch their parents constantly attached to a phone or email responding to work requests? What is it like as a 12-year-old to feel the pressure of needing to be constantly available and responding to text messages all the time?"
— Dr. Devorah Heitner

These are the interactions that shape your child's life and relationship with technology. And these are the feelings that parents can and should talk to their kids about when they're young.

But here's the part that Dr. Heitner doesn't address:

It can be really hard to connect with kids about how social media and technology usage make them feel if a parent isn't acquainted with technology themselves. And if this is how a majority of kids are communicating, is it fair to make your child the odd one out because it's hard for adults to keep up? Of course not!

The best way to put yourself in their shoes is to put yourself in their apps.

Here are some helpful rules and tips (and yes, they require some empathy on the part of your child too!):

If there's a kid in your life who is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other forums, consider passing this along to their parents!

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