How many friends do you have on Facebook? 300 to 400? 500 plus?
That’s a lot of rapid-fire, non-face-toface communicating. For teenagers this can be especially tricky, expecially once you add in an adolescent’s proclivity for impulsivity—makes it a little easier to understand how they can land themselves in the world of sexting and cyber-bullying pretty fast.
“Adolescents are biologically more prone to making decisions that are not well thought out,” says Tristan Gorrindo, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The part of the brain right behind the forehead, which controls judgment, is at that time undergoing a rapid period of development,” says Gorrindo, who is studying the way families use technology.
Gorrindo has created a practice called W.A.I.T. designed with teenagers in mind (but perfect for anyone living in today’s digital world). Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before you post:
W = Wide Audience
“Would I say this in front of a school assembly?”
A = Affect
“Am I in a good emotional place right now?”
I = Intent
“Might my intent be misunderstood?”
T = Today
“Today, tomorrow, or the next day? Can this wait a day?”
Evaluating the urgency of what we’re about to say can provide a helpful injection of perspective. Why is it so urgent? What will happen if I wait? And if I wait, might I feel differently about it later?
This article also appeared in the December 2013 issue of Mindful magazine.