I always thought Tik Tok was a social media platform where people seek entertainment and learn some life hacks and gossip. To my surprise, it has also evolved into a medium where my 13-year-old student was engaging in a religious discourse with a teen from another religion.
Had my student listened to me and put his phone away during our lesson, I would not have flared up and alerted his mum about the situation. I cajoled and waited patiently for him to disengage from the discussion but to no avail.
Even though I admire his fervent desire to learn more about his religion, he was doing it at an inappropriate time. Furthermore, his mum was concerned that he may be exposed to radical religious ideas online disseminated by extremists. To me, this was indeed an alarming and valid concern that sent a chill down my spine.
As parents and guardians, we are finding it increasingly challenging to control the content that our children are exposed to on social media. Even if we have put in place child-safety mode with parents’ supervision on the children’s devices, they could still find ways to undermine the surveillance and seek out content that we discourage or forbid them to access.
How can we safeguard our children’s well-being while they are surfing the net?
As I do not have children yet, I am sharing my thoughts based on how I communicate with my students.
1. Find out what they are thinking regularly.
2. Do not condemn their opinions immediately. Be open-minded and listen to them first. Thereafter, reason with them. Children just want to be HEARD.
3. Instill Independent-thinking through reading widely and discussing what we had read together.
What does my 13-year-old Muslim student think about his religion?
If like me, you are curious about how religion shapes the belief and actions of a child, these are what my student shared with me:
1. Why is your religion important to you?
I believe in the teachings. My religion guides my actions and life.
2. Why do you believe in the teachings of your religion?
They are logical.
3. How are the teachings logical?
They are logical in the following ways:
1. My religion forbids us to consume alcohol as we will lose self-control.
2. My religion forbids us to consume pork as pigs are dirty.
3. My religion teaches me to respect other religions.