Preparing Kids And Parents for Social Media: Meet Author Christa Melnyk Hines

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Christa Melnyk Hines, keynote speaker at the Mothers & More Expo, shares about herself and her expertise in family communication and healthy connections during motherhood. Hines is a freelance journalist, speaker, author and alum member of Mothers & More. She is co-presenting at the Mothers & More Expo on January 26th with author Jen Mann about following one’s goals and passions throughout motherhood.

On January 27th, Hines will discuss ways to prepare kids for social media based on her latest book, Happy, Healthy and Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World. (This presentation is especially for parents of four to 13-year-olds.)

You may also chat with Mann and Hines at their Twitter Party January 27th, 8pm CST where attendees may win a copy of their books. #MMExpo

What inspired you to write Happy, Healthy and Hyperconnected?

I’m passionate about helping families build stronger communication skills. And as the mom of two technology-charmed boys, ages 7 and 9, I’m just as concerned as other parents about the many issues surrounding child-rearing in this digital age. That said, I’m also incredibly inspired by the many benefits that technology offers our kids.

Even though we are learning to parent this digital generation in a revolutionary new way, teaching old-school social skills remains critical if our kids are going to be successful in forming healthy, strong relationships. Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected is a helpful guide for any parent interested in raising their children to move confidently between online and offline interactions with ease and grace.

Do you see any new challenges in 2015 with how youth communicate online?

The biggest challenge for all of us continues to be striking a healthy balance between our online and offline interactions. Without setting predetermined boundaries, we can easily slip into an unhealthy pattern of overusing technology to the detriment of our relationships and our health.

As parents, it’s important for us to emphasize to our kids that online interactions are an extension of their “in real life” interactions. We need to treat people online with the same respect that we would face to face–and with a firm set of boundaries. For example, a friend of a friend who you have never laid eyes on is still a stranger and while it is important to be polite, that individual should still be held at arm’s length until they become a person you know well.

I highly recommend that parents familiarize themselves with social media if they haven’t already. The more familiar you are with how it works, the more you can be a credible resource to your child when she gets online. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be the person my child comes to when faced with an online problem than him taking advice from a peer.

Popular apps will continue to change in 2015. Stay informed, be aware of what they are downloading, monitor your kids’ tech use and talk often about making good, thoughtful choices online.

 What are the benefits of online communication?

Online interactions are wonderful ways to keep up with friends and relatives and grow your social circle. Kids can Facetime or Skype with grandparents and traveling parents. They can play games remotely with their friends. They can learn through online communication by watching educational videos and playing games that help them learn new concepts and think creatively. They can learn to blog and podcast, make digital photo books and share their creations with family and friends. Many schools are beginning to integrate social media to help kids learn directly from experts in the field. For example, a classroom can connect with an expert through Skype or on Twitter and ask questions regarding a topic they are studying.  I love this because it helps kids learn to use social media in a responsible way.

 In your book Confidently Connected you write about how moms can navigate transitions, manage personal relationships and have a satisfying social life. What are some of the resources that have helped you with your own transitions in motherhood?

Mothers’ groups were instrumental in helping me feel supported and part of a community as a new mother. After my oldest son was born, I took a break from my career to stay home with him full time. With no extended family nearby and a husband who traveled frequently for work, I was completely unprepared for how isolated and lonely I would feel. I lacked confidence in my ability to mother and had more questions than answers, often feeling unsure if I was doing the right thing for my son.

After joining a mother’s group, I felt a surge in energy. My spirit responded right away to being part of a community of moms who I could relate to. As a result my confidence in myself as a new mom began to grow.

When I moved to Kansas City, I found myself again without a network. That’s when I joined Mothers & More. I really connected with many of the moms. I loved being able to get together with other moms at group playdates and scheduling moms’ night outs. I also liked having the ability to post questions on the email “loop,” which is a Facebook page now. It was helpful for me to see that many moms shared similar concerns and worries as I did, and there was almost always someone with a smart idea, helpful tip or supportive comment.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities for when you’re not writing, blogging, speaking and volunteering?

I love to read. I started a neighborhood book club just so I could have an excuse to get together with some of my fun neighbor friends to discuss books and enjoy lively conversation! I also like to do yoga, walk my dogs, cook, watch movies, try new restaurants, travel, and veg out with my family!

What books are on your reading list for 2015?


Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids by Dr. Anne Fishel and Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We can Do About It by Jane Healy

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Fiction (this list is lengthy so I’ll just give you the highlights!)

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

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