CD: Welcome to In Conversation brought to you by China Daily Video News.
I’m Bernice Chan.
My guest today is Jacalyn Leavitt. Her husband is Michael Leavitt, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. She was also First Lady when her husband was governor of Utah for 11 years.
Mrs. Leavitt has done a lot of advocacy work around social issues concerning literacy, family and the Internet.
Welcome to In Conversation.
JL: Thank you. So please to be with you Bernice.
CD: How many times have you visited China?
JL: A year ago was my first time.
CD: What has surprised you the most about the country and its people?
JL: The city is amazing. There are so many different buildings with architecture that is very dynamic. And we have made some good friends here actually while we have been here.
CD: Good. What are one or two challenges facing China that concern you?
JL: Well the first one is a challenge but a wonderful opportunity – the Olympics. And the youth are such a vibrant part of the Games that I was more than happy to share those and tell them about our experience.
We had the governor’s music and education program that went out all over the state and youth came. They would sing at programs, they would welcome people at the airports, athletes and those who had come to see the sports. There were opportunities for them as the torch came through their cities as how it runs and goes through the state or the country and is lit at all of these fabulous chances for youth to feel engaged and a part of it because - they really- the youth of Beijing represent the youth of China so that opportunity to me and to my husband Mike Leavitt is very exciting, it was a thrill to be in office during that time and what an amazing time and to be here during this year and leading up and the experience involved.
CD: So can you explain why you started I Keep Safe.org ?
JL: “I keep safe”, the long name, or the Internet coalition is a group of government leaders, educators, the health community – we have associations for example, we have American medical association, and the American public health association, we have law-makers and we have tech’ leaders combined together to provide information and resources for parents and educators to help implement strategy at home so their children will be safe online.
CD: There is a growing concern in China and also in the US of children who spend too much time on the computer, too much time on the Internet. What kind of implications does this have to them as people and to society as a whole?
JL: That is an excellent question. I want to start by saying that the Internet connects people. We have this concern and you have this concern and so, it’s something that we can talk about very well together to learn because we have the same issues with this. We want to start young to talk about it and dialogue!
We have,… we call them “The three keeps for parents”: keep current, keep communicating and keep checking.
These help to remind parents that they need to be engaged with what their child is doing online. Specifically to your point with Internet safety and Internet balancing screen time and real life. This is often called Internet addiction but it can be important for all students, whether this is an extreme issue with them it is something that every student needs to understand that setting limits and balancing this time is important.
But you ask the implications.Let me point out a couple of things though this particular book I have “Faux Paw goes to the games”. It is targeted for elementary school and preschool. We actually also dialogue with middle school and high school students, but we find that two things particularly are the issues and concerns that young people will with a click of a mouse the world opens up to them and it is very positive. But at times they will cling to this and to not cope with responsibilities, homework, whatever they are wanting to step back from or get away from. And that is not healthy for the use of computers. If they cling to it and not cope with real life, it can be an issue.
And secondly the fact that if they IM – instant message – can be very handy. But you want your child to have real life friends and to have real life peers. And not to just focus mainly on text messaging and IM-ing because if that is done too heavily, then they don’t have the skills or they don’t develop the skills to develop one-on-one real relationship skills. And you want them to know that real life friends are most important and you want them to be engaged with real life. So those are the two main concerns.
CD: We could talk about this for much longer, but unfortunately our time is short. So I want to thank you so much for joining us for In Conversation
JL: Thank you and I appreciate being here. As I say, we share the same issue and the same concerns.