A long time ago I wrote about how I take the Internet for granted. I don’t think I need to tell you this but I will – I love the Internet and since writing that 2012 blog post, I can confidently say that I DO NOT (all caps!) take the Internet for granted any longer. Over the years, the Internet, and more specifically the World Wide Web, has allowed me to connect with and meet so many wonderful clinicians. It has also provided me with a sort of digital blank canvas. And on that digital blank canvas, every other week or so, I attempt to paint a colorful lil’ speech therapy related blog post that hopefully inspires you to try something new within your speech therapy room.
So with all of that being said, I guess you could say that I use the Internet for good.
Using the Internet to connect with other speech-language pathologists. That’s good. Using the Internet to share speech therapy thoughts and ideas. That’s good. Using the Internet to look at a video compilation of a bunch of bunnies being cute. That’s good (VERY good, actually).
But sadly, some people use the Internet for bad.
Using the Internet to spread rumors about someone. That’s bad. Using the Internet to poke fun at someone. That’s bad. Using the Internet to bully someone. That’s bad. The list goes on and on with the bad ways that some people choose to use the Internet.
School-aged students and the Internet.
Because I have the pleasure of working with so many school-aged children, I can’t help but to try to look at the World Wide Web through their eyes. Youngsters are exposed to so much negativity online. From inappropriate pictures/videos to hateful words, you name it, they’ve been exposed to it. And because I’m a caring educator who genuinely wants to cover up online negativity whenever I can, I’m constantly on the lookout for positive websites to introduce to my students. I want to show them the bright side of the Internet. I’m always hunting for websites where it’s obvious that the creators had good intentions and that they wanted to spread some goodness online. One of the most recent websites that I’ve stumbled across that fits this bill is called thenicestplaceontheinter.net.
Hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.
Imagine an online destination that features one thing and one thing only – hugs. Yup. That’s what thenicestplaceontheinter.net is. It’s not filled with anything bad. It’s all good. It’s a constant video loop of individuals smiling at their webcams and giving big hugs to their computer. And in the background, a lovely song plays that perfectly flows alongside the seemingly never-ending string of hug videos. When you watch these videos, you can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside because it actually feels like YOU are the one who keeps getting hugged! How sweet! The about section of the website reads, “Having one of those days? Yeah, been there too. And sometimes, a little pick-me-up is hard to come by. So come on by to turn the sad into happy and the happy into a celebration. Cause this is a nice place to visit on days like today.”
Now if that’s not a positive website, I don’t know what is!
Can we somehow use this website in speech therapy? I think so. Easily. Here’s a situation that I know you’ve probably been in before. Picture this – One of the students on your caseload comes to speech therapy and the moment the kiddo sits down at your table, you can just feel that something isn’t right. Maybe something happened at lunch? Maybe something happened at home? Maybe it has to do with the Internet? Maybe it doesn’t? Who knows?
What do you, as the clinician, do in a situation like this?
Sure, our first reaction might be to ask the student what’s wrong? And by all means, that’s probably what we should do. But more often than not, a middle schooler will probably deny that anything is wrong. (Most likely, they will deny while wearing a frown – it’s so obvious!)
This is where I believe this positive website could come in.
Maybe instead of prodding and pleading to get the student to open up to you, that student might find some comfort in you showing him or her thenicestplaceontheinter.net? You might say something along the lines of, “Hey, I saw this interesting website a few days ago that I actually wanted to show you. It’s called thenicestplaceontheinter.net. Let’s take a few moments to check it out on my laptop before we jump into today’s lesson.”
And that’s it. You show the student.
Go to the website. Don’t say anything. Let the videos loop for a minute or two. Let’s see if the student says something that relates to how he or she is feeling. If the student does, go with it. If the student doesn’t, that’s fine. Simply close the website and remind the individual that you’re always there if he or she ever wants to talk. But I’m willing to bet the student WILL say something.
In closing . . .
We’ve all felt crumby before. Even the most positive person could get tripped up with something that puts him or her in a funk. Thankfully, there are nice websites out there like thenicestplaceontheinter.net that just might get the person out of his or her funk. Because here’s the truth, if one of your students is in a funk, it’s almost impossible for a successful speech therapy session to occur. So let’s use thenicestplaceontheinter.net to our advantage if we ever notice one of our kiddos in a funk. This positive website, mixed with your positive smile, that’s a combo made in Heaven, if you ask me.