By Kate Bennett and Betsy Klein, CNN
First lady Melania Trump spoke out against cyberbullying Monday as part of her Be Best campaign, warning against “destructive and harmful” uses of social media and once again highlighting a messaging rift between the East Wing and the West Wing.
In remarks at a cyberbullying summit in Rockville, Maryland, the first lady acknowledged that children can be more aware of the “pitfalls” of social media than adults.
“Let’s face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits,” she said.
Trump called for educating children on responsible social media habits.
“In today’s global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives. It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. This is why Be Best chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting,” Trump said.
Less than one week ago, her husband, President Donald Trump, took to social media to harshly attack a former White House aide.
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” he tweeted about Omarosa Manigault Newman, prompting condemnation from his critics.
Her spokeswoman sought to downplay any disconnect between the East Wing and the West Wing, calling the first lady “independent.”
“She’s addressed this before. She is well aware of the criticism, but that will not deter her from doing what she feels is right. I would hope most people in this country are proud that they have a strong and independent First Lady who only has the best interests of children at heart – I know I am,” the first lady’s communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN.
Trump’s Be Best campaign, which she launched in May, centers on three key issues for children: well-being, fighting opioid abuse and positivity on social media.
Speaking about her husband’s social media habits in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” just after the 2016 election, Melania Trump said that sometimes it got him in trouble, “but it helped a lot, as well.”
Asked whether she spoke up if she felt he crossed a line, the first lady said, “Yes, I tell him all the time.”
But she conceded that at the end of the day, he does what he wants.
“I think he hears me. But he will do what he wants to do on the end. He’s an adult. He knows the consequences. And I give him my opinion. And he could do whatever he likes with it,” Trump said.
Addressing a crowd of social media companies, federal agencies, educational organizations, youth programs, and law enforcement, Trump said the group shared one goal: “To pave a smooth way forward for our children, our next generation.”