Our kids are growing up in a house full of introvert and autistic adults. Social media, and “being” online, isn’t this “waste of time, get out and get some sunshine” bad thing that many people make it out to be. Not here. We’ve made good friends, friends we’ve had for many, many years, online. We create and collaborate online. It’s better than going to the corner bar. And then, quite often — we DO meet our friends! We take planes and trains, or they come to us! It is beautiful.
People worry about the “isolation” of homeschooling, but it’s not isolating. I have seen some of the first instances of social max-out in Claudia since we started homeschooling. Because the socialization isn’t just the din of “being with” five hundred kids in a school — it’s being part of a real conversation or project.
What both of my kids have wanted is better quality interactions, in-person with peers, as well as people of other ages — and, also, by using their iPads or other devices. Sometimes they just want to say hi to a family member at a time when it’s not a”phone call” hour. Sometimes they have a question for someone in the community. Or just want to say hi and send a photo.
To this end: currently, a three-pronged approach to communicating online, with some overseeing, but working towards independence.
We are setting up an e-mail and Snapchat-based “pen pal” friendship with another adoptee near their ages, but who lives in Detroit-by-way-of-Russia. That one is still in the works; all three have agreed that it will be exciting, but are still checking each other out on their mom’s Facebook pages.
Claude and Béla do have their own shared Snapchat account now, as seen above. They are “Hoogahland”, should you wish to friend them. We like that messages disappear, so that they cannot get caught up in going through archives. They wait until they have a few to check the account, or until they have a few specific things they want to send. And we make sure that the conversation “stops”… no one is caught in an endless vortex of Claudia-and-Bélaspeak. If you are our pals, feel free to friend them! (Some of you have already!)
Finally, we have found a site/app called DIY.org, which is a child-based community for uploading and sharing — and admiring — one another’s artwork, dancing, singing, crafting — anything you can share. It was fun to see the kids get “followers”, and they liked following new “people” back (the beginning of mysterious internet friendships!) and making comments about the cool things those kids had made. Here’s a drawing that we uploaded this evening to DIY on my phone (here, the kids are also “Hoogahland”).
In addition to just sharing and admiring, you can use online tutorials, and participate in challenges in certain fields (Painter, Vocalist, Sculptor, etc.) to earn “badges” in those disciplines. After Claude slogging grumpily through her solfege exercises for weeks, all it took was her seeing a few other kids doing it to make her interested in working on it on her own. Ha.
Social media is not a wasteland where no one is “doing” anything “real” — it is a great place to share and to meet NEW people who are as real as anyone! They may be people far away. They may be people who have an easier time communicating online than they do in real life. Or they may be people who just want to get to know all kinds of people, from everywhere — and to share the wonderful things they make and do!