Using Social Media to Connect During This Difficult Time

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By Nicki Francis, Coordinator of Program and Professional Development

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's easy in this time of isolation and social distancing to find things to make you smile and feel happy. Social media is proving to be a ray of hope for isolated individuals. Many amazing movements are happening across our towns, state and country. Simple gestures are being used to encourage us, promote positivity and connect everyone in this difficult time.

One such movement started on Facebook and called on members of the community – students, parents, individuals – to create a rainbow and hang it their window. Many communities are calling this "Rainbows over ____." That way, as people take their regular walks or choose to get some fresh air around their neighborhood, they'll be reminded by these rainbows that they are not alone – we are all still connected. It also gives everyone something to do and sparks creativity in this tough time. Many towns have even created Facebook groups and are asking for families to post their rainbows, encouraging children to explore and find as many as they can. It has become a simple way to spread happiness.

Social media has also helped extended families, work families, schools, friends and loved ones connect in "real time." Many teachers are using Google Hangout or Zoom as a way to talk to their classes, teach lessons and allow student interactions with their fellow classmates. Students are using Zoom to directly reach teachers and get clarification on school assignments. Schools have also created inspirational videos from staff to keep students engaged and motivated. Businesses have started using Zoom to hold daily or weekly meetings. Many are taking advantage of this platform to create projects and timelines to keep staff on task and foster a feeling of connection. Additionally, many families, from cousins to grandparents, are using FaceTime to connect to isolated relatives. This allows for families to see each other while still social distancing.

This extra family time has also given parents a chance to become more engaged in their child's social media/gaming life. Many adults are learning what TikTok and Fortnite are all about, and it has been a true learning experience. It's a truly special bonding experience to have your child teach you a TikTok dance and then record it together, creating hilarious and entertaining memories that will last a lifetime. Learning to game has also proven to be more difficult than adults think. Children are more than happy to beat their parents and keep secrets that might help them win. Now more than ever, gaming has given families a way to bond and connect. It has given families a way to bridge the technology lifestyle most youth are obsessed with.

Many adults see social media as a distracting way that children isolate themselves, but in this time of restriction, social media has proven to be a key platform for creating memories, increasing laughter and sharing positive messages. It's hard to look for positives in a world filled with uncertainty, but social media has been crucial during this time, connecting us all. I am looking forward to all of the other creative ways social media can help us.
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