WASHINGTON — First Lady Melania Trump unveiled a set of initiatives aimed at children on Monday that include improving the way that kids use social media.
She indicated that she had met or consulted with representatives from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Snap and Microsoft. President Donald Trump was among those at the Rose Garden ceremony.
The first lady’s “Be Best” campaign will have three pillars, all aimed at children, including well being, social media use, and opioid abuse.
Her decision to include social media use — along with issues like cyberbullying — is not a surprise, as she mentioned it before, but it has also focused attention on her husband’s use of Twitter to lob insults and other attacks, and the potential impact it could have on kids. Just before the ceremony, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “kind of ridiculous” to blame the president for cyberbullying, an issue that has been around for more than a decade.
“When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways and can effect positive change,” the first lady said at the ceremony. “I do believe the children should be both seen and heard.”
She said, “it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction, or even suicide.”
The president signed a proclamation declaring May 7 “Be Best” day, and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek.
A first lady’s initiatives can be enormously influential, as she can bring enormous attention to issues that otherwise may fade into the media din. They are generally non-controversial. Melania Trump’s predecessor, Michelle Obama, focused on military families, healthy eating and exercise, girls’ empowerment, and post-high school education. She often used pop culture platforms to promote them.
It’s unclear how the first lady will promote her initiatives, and whether that will include talk shows, celebrity interaction, and other personal appearances. She has largely shied away from media interviews, but said in the ceremony that she planned to meet with tech firm representatives.
“My hope is that together, we can be best at helping children and families find effective ways to educate themselves and support each other,” the first lady said.