For parenting in the digital world: nextTalkBookmark this
“At that moment, I froze.” That’s the reaction Mandy Majors, Founder and Executive Director of nextTalk, had when her daughter asked her a highly sexualized question. It wasn’t “where do babies come from?” either. Another student had exposed her daughter to graphic sexual details at the school lunch table. Mandy felt ill equipped to respond. Her daughter was only nine years old.
Fielding this type of question was new territory and a pivotal moment for the stay-at-home mom. Mandy was desperate to protect and save her kids from a new digital world of which she knew little. She set out to find answers.
“We’re the first generation to navigate parenting in the digital world and the dangers that come with it,” says Mandy. Her search for a solution led to nextTalk. Its mission: helping parents keep kids safe online through open communication at home.
Mandy decided to form a church group raising awareness and offering support to other parents who were feeling lost. The need was obvious—20 members quickly grew to 200. In 2016, Mandy and five other families formed nextTalk. In 2017, Mandy released her book, Talk: A Practical Approach to Cyberparenting and Open Communication. On Amazon, almost all of the dozens of reviews give it five stars. Since then, nextTalk has launched speaking tours, radio podcasts, and a nine-week video series curriculum. Their message has reached people in 24 countries worldwide.
The need was obvious—20 members quickly grew to 200.
According to Mandy, access to smart devices and the internet is exposing kids to sex and dangerous encounters much earlier—sometimes at four and five years old. “Sex traffickers are literally a click away, posing and interacting as other children,” says Mandy.
Mandy found the solution she was looking for in Deuteronomy 6:6-7. The scripture has become the driving force behind nextTalk. It provides four essential times for parents to talk with their kids. “Talk with your kids. On the go, at home, going to bed and getting up,” she explains. In other words, talk to your kids—anytime, anywhere.
What has become clear is that parents can delay access to technology or devices, but parents can’t delay these tough conversations. The nonprofit explores topics like sex trafficking, cyber bullying, suicide and sexuality. “Parents get squeamish, but we need to shift our thinking,” says Mandy. “It’s shocking at times, but we have to think of it as saving our kids.”
Parents also learn about various loopholes, hidden social media accounts, and unfamiliar messaging systems from nextTalk. Or, they learn how a simple web search can involuntarily lead to pornographic or harmful content. “We have to be their Google, so we can speak truth into these topics,” says Mandy. “Kids are getting a lot of false information from their friends and online.”
“At SPR, one of our core values is family. To be able to support Mandy and her team’s work at nextTalk means we are building safer and stronger families in our community. The propensity of technology, smartphones and social media make parenting very different than just 25 years ago. The efforts of nextTalk provide the knowledge we need as parents to keep our kids safe. We love nextTalk! We encourage you to connect with Mandy, attend one of her events and support the efforts of this vital ministry.“
Michael D. Perkins, CPA, CFP,® Managing Partner & CEO, Slattery Perkins Ramirez P.C.
If you’re a parent and don’t know where to begin, you’re not alone. “I had to submit to the Deuteronomy scripture and show that no topic was off-limits in our home,” says Mandy. The nextTalk video series and podcasts present Christ-centered principles while encouraging open and honest discussion. “The mission isn’t to tell people how to live their lives or parent,” says Mandy. “The mission is to get parents talking with their kids.”
Kelli Ayres, a co-pastor at Cross Mountain Church and parent, agrees that nextTalk provides a valuable service. “It’s opened our eyes to many of the negative and harmful things our kids are facing. The good news is this team gives us the tools we need to face these problems, along with encouragement through God’s word to turn it around in our homes.”
Mandy now describes her life in terms of “before and after” her daughter’s unexpected question. “This has changed everything. I can’t imagine parenting any other way.”
The nonprofit gives a wakeup call. It gives parents a newfound awareness of the culture we’re living in—however scary. “I also want parents to walk away filled with hope,” says Mandy. “God knew this was going to happen and gave us a roadmap in Deuteronomy. Instead of worrying, we need to pour that time and energy into building a healthy dialogue with our kids.
Top three strategies for honest conversations at home from nextTalk
- Always remain calm. When we react negatively, yell, or take a phone away, our kids shut down. We’re teaching them not to talk to us. Instead, try positive reinforcement like, ‘I’m so proud of you for telling me.’” As James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
- Create a safe place. Build their trust, and don’t broadcast their business on social media.
- It starts with you. As parents, maybe we're screamers, poor listeners or on autopilot. We may be creating an environment where our kids don’t feel comfortable talking to us. If we can pinpoint those weaknesses in ourselves, we can strengthen our conversations with our children.
P.O. Box 160111, San Antonio, TX 78280
Be A Light.
Donate at www.nextTalk.org/give. Help spread the nextTalk message! Your donations will support a new 24/7 online help desk to assist parents in crisis. Your giving will also help produce new podcast and video series content. Volunteer. The staff members at nextTalk all have busy schedules and familial duties. Expand their efforts and become trained to lead the nextTalk message. Partner. Contact nextTalk to host a fundraising event, speak with your congregation, or form a local support group.
8000 IH-10 West, Suite 705, SAT 78230
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