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Calling ALL Dubai teenagers: are your parents on their phones too much?

I’m on my way back to Dubai today to talk at the Emirates Litfest. For details of what I’m doing (and what I did in Dubai last week!) see here.

I’m doing three sessions, in this order:

  1. I’m participating in the School Librarian of the Year Award, sponsored and organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation. I’m delighted that there’s this award in Dubai and very excited to be part of it. I’ll share a panel with the fabulous Maitha Al Khayat
  2. A school event at the Horizon International School. The school bid for me to come to visit them and they seem very excited about it! I hope they’re ready with lots of questions. I am busy signing postcards for every student. I’ll write about it afterwards.
  3. A public event for adults AND teenagers/young people, on the truth about life online on Saturday at 12pm.

THAT is the one I want to talk a bit more about now, as I want to convince teenagers to make their parents or any adults come to the talk. Adults need to hear this.

I want to start with an apology to all teenagers: The Teenage Guide to Life Online was supposed to be called simply LIFE ONLINE because I do not believe that the message is specifically for teenagers. You do not want to be lectured by me on your online lives. This is a message for everyone. If your parents haven’t read the book, please share it with them.

Here’s why I’d love you (teenagers) to come to my session on Sat 9 March at 12pm:

  1. You will ENJOY my messages and you will love how on your side I am. I am not a middle-aged woman preaching to young people about what young people should do. Come and find out how different I am from that!
  2. You will discover the TRUTH about screen, smartphone and social media use and not the silly, scare-mongering newspaper headlines that are usually inaccurate and unhelpful. I will ask your parents to stop paying attention to these headlines. I know my subject and I will tell you the truth.
  3. I have some really INTERESTING insights into how our screens affect us, things you’ve probably not heard anywhere else. I’ve read the research and applied it to a very wide understanding of human behaviour and how brains work, and this has given me new insights.
  4. You will discover how AGE STEREOTYPES REALLY ANNOY ME! People of all ages sometimes use their screens healthily and well and sometimes don’t. Let’s stop judging “young people” (and “older people”) and actually join together and solve this challenge together.
  5. At the same time, I’m will be quite CRITICAL of the behaviour of (many, but not all) adults. Adults are often setting a really bad example and creating health problems for themselves.
  6. When I make suggestions, they will be FOR ADULTS EQUALLY. I have some practical strategies for us all to live well online and onscreen. You don’t have to obey them but I think they’re worth knowing.
  7. I want to EMPOWER, ENGAGE, REASSURE and HELP you. I have a reputation for speaking in a way that does this. Sometimes, teenagers assume I’m going to be bossy and boring – I’m not!
  8. I am going to try something NEW. I’m taking a risk. I haven’t quite worked it out yet so it could go right or wrong. Come and watch it go wrong! Wahhhhhhhh…!
  9. I love a big audience. I love to see your faces. I love to see people nodding. I especially love it when teenagers AND adults come to my sessions and I can show you that we are all in this together. There should be no “us and them”. I’m with you.
  10. I will not ask you to do anything other than listen and nod and maybe smile at me. I will not ask you to turn to your neighbour and discover three things about them or get into groups or anything at all. you can relax!
  11. I will have a signed postcard for everyone who comes. I will also have some other things to give away. Please do buy a book from the festival bookshop and come and get it signed. I think lots of my books will be there, not just Life Online.

Enough reasons? Just please, do come. I’m travelling thousands of miles to see you and I might not get the chance again.

Do you want resources such as handouts, tips and links to useful articles?

See my Life Online resources, here, and there is a printable sheet of tips for healthy screen use here.

If you want to know what kind of things I might talk about, listen to this radio interview about it for Dubai Eye).

Please come! I’ll be at the festival from Tuesday so you might catch me wandering around.

Do comment but please remember that this site is for all ages.

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