Reflecting on the first year of Voxel Hub 

This November Voxel Hub is celebrating its first anniversary. For many of us, the last 12 months have been challenging and revealing. The reactions to those shifts were complex.  My personal thought leaders emerged wiser and stronger.  My close networks and communities grew kinder and more resilient.  We all connected around the old problems, new pains and ongoing vulnerabilities, and maybe our own humanity too. 

At Voxel Hub, this first year was a year of actualising and building (business plan, brand guidelines, core values, digital wellbeing model). With the guidance from my Advisory Board, I have shaped the core of this new business. Thanks to the fantastic Liam McKinnon, I have developed the Voxel Hub website and blog. 

I learned loads! I continued supporting my clients with consultancy, coaching and counselling conversations. I worked with incredible people who this year showed fantastic humanity, resilience and results, but often also got back to me to check in too – which makes me very proud and happy.

And so, I continue building the core of Voxel Hub, serving people and learning. As my journey continues, I hope yours is evolving too.

Thank you for being here, with me and for welcoming me into your journeys too. 

My favourite topic this month

The recent Social Dilemma docudrama movie streamed on Netflix is causing a lot of strong reactions. Most of all, it is provoking deep fear in parents worried about the children’s digital wellbeing. The negative impact of social media on our mental health is heavily overdrawn, simplified and dramatised. 

The creators are making an important point about the risk of unregulated data sales and behavioural predictions. It’s a critical topic, but it is not new. The Facebook algorithm was launched in 2006The idea of targeted advertising is also familiar – we have already experienced it in TV, radio and other forms of media channels. The reach of social media channels can raise serious concerns about the impact of that targeted advertising on our wellbeing. However, film participants do not really offer any constructive answers. 

As for young people, the vast amount of information and the main character’s story is presented out of context, with a strong negative bias by people who themselves don’t seem to know how to manage their unhealthy digital habits. That’s simply not helpful. After watching the movie, the real dilemma parents now face is how to take their kids off social media in the increasingly digitally connected age. We all know that’s not possible.

So what is really going on?

Those of us who work in digital wellbeing know that most young people thrive online (especially in 2020!). However, the more vulnerable individuals might now face more abuse from their carers, fewer opportunities for constructive dialogue at home, limited access to their support networks online and more biased support from mental health professionals.  That’s a long list of problems not addressed but potentially exaggerated by this movie. No wonder many parents feel helpless and scared.

So where do we start?

If you decide to watch the movie, be sure to do so very critically, reflecting on your individual feelings and your reality at home. Question every single point made – remember, it is not a documentary. It’s a docudrama featuring few individual stories and experiences, not complex metastudies. 

Start by asking yourself:  What is your story of social media and wellbeing?  How does social media impact your family – consider both negative and positive impact? What is the story and experience of your children? 

I also hope the tools below will help at least a little bit. 

My presents for you this month:

Here are a few resources to support your family conversations. Please remember to follow the Parenting Pyramid model, focussing more on empathy and your listening skills than disciplining. If you want to have a very effective dialogue, why not experiment with the Imago method of intentional conversations (tips here and here). 

Research – Before you start, educate yourself. I have put together a list of insightful Social Dilemma reviews for you all over on the blog. Please have a look before you watch the movie and talk to your young people. Staying informed helps us make more informed choices and regulate our strong emotions more successfully. 

Listen – I have put together a quick guide to conversations with young people about digital technologies. You can download it here. Feel free to adjust it to the age of your child, but remember that most children are very tech aware. Collaborate – Your conversations might need action, so here is a simple example of home agreement, an easy way of discussing and capturing rules. You can use this or make something more creative too based on its content. Whatever works for you. Please remember that mutually agreed and followed rules lead to more trusted relationships. Our children need clarity and a grown-up who they can turn to for help and for encouragement. 

This update was exceptionally long but I hope it was useful.

Let me know what else you would like to see here in the upcoming months.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected.

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Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

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Senior social media and digital wellbeing consultant, coach and counsellor. Founder of Voxel Hub.

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