This was a live conversation held June 24th 2020
David: I'd like to start by letting Ms. Huff introduce herself and let us know about her children's ages and what grade they're in or going to.
Ayana: My name is Ayana Huff, I'm a mom of three. My oldest is 15 and she just finished ninth grade. I have a 14 year old that just finished eighth grade, and a little girl that just finished fifth grade. So I have kids in elementary, middle and high school. Next year two will be going to high school and one will be in middle school. About me...I've been married for 16 years and we live in the suburbs of Atlanta.
David: Awesome! So I'm gonna talk a little bit about the subject of mental health and how it impacts children. The reason that I chose this as a topic today for today's chat is to talk about the differences between kids in our generation and today's generation. Growing up in the 90's there was little internet but today children are committing suicide because they're being depressed. They're under this pressure to be not only cool in school but now they have to be cool online and it can be a lot of pressure. When you're a kid you're trying to figure out who you are and you're going through all of the natural stages of growing. You're trying to fit in, you're starting to like boys or girls for the first time you know you're trying to find out where you fit into the social hierarchy in the school system. Then, you get home and you have to do the same thing online. You have to post the best pictures on all the social media platforms. We didn't have that when we were growing up so I thought it would be a good day or a good topic to speak about. The mental health of children because we're starting to lose children to suicide as a result of cyber bullying.
1st Question: So you have three children and they are all different ages. What is their online activity and how do you monitor what they do online? How do the three of them use the internet to engage with others?
Ayana: So my son who's 11 just recently got a phone because he's going to middle school. There's other factors like he's gonna be the last one to leave the house because middle school doesn't start until after nine o'clock here. Everybody will be gone already so it's kind of a safety issue just to let us know he got on the bus and things of that nature. Prior to that he wasn't online, but he does have a YouTube channel that I do monitor um but really he only has like two subscribers.
My oldest who's 15 does, she's had a cell phone for a while. I think she's only on a couple different platforms: Snapchat, Instagram and I think she has a Tik-Tok account. Well she does have a Tik-Tok account but she doesn't use that often. I am also on both platforms to monitor her. I see who she follows and who's following her. We have two of them, one of them is Rison, our provider. It sends me a text message or message wherever she goes like it'll send me at the end of the day like she went here she spent this much time here and things of that nature. I think there's one called life 365 don't quote me on it but it does kind of the same thing and that is the same for my middle child. She has that on her phone so I can see what they're doing all day. Wherever they go, whatever platforms are on I do have an account to monitor their accounts. I do what I call random phone checks so anytime I just ask for their phone and I just take a look and see what they're doing.
David: Wow that's interesting! I don't have children so I didn't know that you can doç all that to monitor their online activity. It's really good to keep them safe especially on YouTube because when you upload videos to YouTube they ask you if this video is safe for children. The comments on there can be nasty and you can turn comments off but of course you want to get a comment on your video because you know people are watching.
2nd Question: Since your children have been using the internet and you have children in different ages and different stages of school have you seen the internet change their social activity at all? Have you seen them try to fit in with any trends they see online or have you seen what they do online bleed into how they act at home?
Ayana: The internet started when I was in high school so I'll tell you how old I am. I remember AOL. We didn't have much internet, I was in 10th grade when AOL first started the whole internet thing and it was a lot different. I personally definitely talk to strangers and probably people I shouldn't talk to that's because it was still new. So because I have this old experience I'm more hypersensitive to what my kids do and who they talk to. I also remember a time where you didn't know that your friends were hanging out without you until Monday. So on Friday they're like no I'm not busy and you didn't get in contact with them.
You didn't see it right then like you didn't see it on Saturday like oh everybody's hanging out but I'm sitting at home you had to wait until Monday to find out. By then it was already past so you were probably bummed because nobody invited you. Now, they see it in real time, like how come everybody is hanging out and nobody called me. It could be kind of difficult for them because they feel like they see and people hang out but they didn't get invited or they're seeing people post. With the internet they post the best of their lives, not they aren't posting everything.
My oldest I don't really feel like she has a hard time with it. My middle daughter definitely has a hard time with the Internet. She just got Instagram maybe a month ago (it hasn't even been that long) because of that she's very hypersensitive to what everyone else is doing. She's a little bit more impressionable than my other two so like if she sees this (on social media) all of a sudden she likes that or if she sees people doing that (on social media), then she wants that. With her we waited a little while before I let her do that (get on social media). the kids communicate on that (social media) so like they don't text, they don't call each other, they talk on games and make plans through social media. It was almost like I was keeping her from making plans with people because she wasn't on those platforms.
If you are interested in more of this mental health conversation you can watch my conversation with Ayana on my YouTube page. Please use this link and go to the 8 minute mark on the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYwrs6qy15s