Katie Schumacher is a Certified New York State Teacher who began Don't Press Send in her hometown of Rockville Centre, NY. Katie believes that there are many challenges to raising children who are growing up with social media as their primary means of communication. Katie is dedicated to assisting today's children to embrace the many positives of technology and avoid its pitfalls.
With the latest statistics showing a 200 percent increase of suicide of children between 10 and 14 years of age since the introduction of the smartphone and the increase in anxiety, depression and ADHD, it is evident to all that we have a national, if not global, epidemic of the misuse of technology and social media by teens as well as adults. We have all heard stories in which children have publically humiliated one another, put themselves in harm's way by conversing with strangers via social media, or even worse, cyberbullied to the point of taking their own life. Technology is not to blame for this extremely unfortunate way our children are conversing and sharing on social media sites. These sites do not set out with the intent to harm, but when used in an unkind or unsafe manner, there can be serious consequences. Countless children and teenagers are suffering at the hands of this misuse. As a former classroom teacher and parent of three teenagers, I began to see firsthand how social media was being misused in and around my community.
Five years ago I began a program called Don’t Press Send, an education in cyber civics. I began this program because I know that if so many kids are misusing social media so drastically, it’s because they haven’t been educated in how to use it correctly. Today’s youth are being raised by parents who are ill-equipped to teach the lessons they need to in this technological age. They are in unfamiliar territory. Fortunately for us, we do not need to be technological experts, or keep up with the latest social media trends to teach our children how to behave. Online or off, the rules should be the same. We need to help our children push past the emotional barrier the screen creates and see that on the other side of that screen is a living, breathing, feeling human being, who must be treated with kindness. We need to help them create and reinforce their own boundaries, strengthen their empathic skills, protect their privacy and make thoughtful, positive decisions. We must also lead by example, guiding our children to think mindfully about their choices, both on social media and in life. We can teach them to stop, to take a deep breath and to pause before they post.
I have presented numerous workshops in schools and each time I do, parents, teachers, and children ask me for more information, more guidance, and more resources for creating a kinder cyber community. The success of my program has grown rather quickly because of its great need. To date, over 60,000 students have taken the Don’t Press Send Campaign’s Pledge, which provides a series of guidelines and strategies to help children navigate today’s ever- changing technological world. It gives them a solid foundation to draw upon, in the hope of preventing them from harming themselves or others. Each pledge is a conversation in itself, and it is my hope that parents, children and educators will use them to begin this journey of positive reform. In addition, we have developed the Don’t Press Send App in order to reach more people. This app has been downloaded in 23 countries. It is my hope that parents will provide their children with this app not only as a one-time process but also as a springboard for some well-needed conversation. As parents, and as educators, we simply need to begin a dialogue with our children. You can download the Don’t Press Send App for free from the App Store or by clicking here. In an effort to expand our influence, I have presented a TED Talk about the importance of finding technology's place in our lives. I am proud to provide a sound resource with my new book, "Don’t Press Send: A Mindful Approach to Social Media, An Education In Cyber Civics." This book is a timely resource for parents and teachers, to help educate children to engage in more kind and careful online communication. Thank you for visiting our website and for being a part of the solution to stem the misuse of social media.