Social Media and Parenting

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This past week I  watched a very sad indictment of the “Sextortion of Amanda Todd” being aired on CBC The Fifth Estate, to commemorate the anniversary of Amanda’s death.  I was horrified to hear how twelve and thirteen year old teens are sharing lewd images of themselves on group blogging and webcam sites.  I was even more than horrified to see how online predators could take advantage of such students,  and blackmail them into sharing more revealing images.  This tragedy exemplifies some insidious dangers inherent with image sharing sites,  such as SnapChat and Instagram, and with private chat rooms.   Media literacy is not the topic on display, and images provoke more than just fear, or isolation, they can provoke students to suicide.

This brought to mind many ways as parents we need to be involved in our students’ “online time”?

You will often hear students saying that the time they spend alone on their computers is private and they have the “rights” to not share their online behaviour.  Not only are cases of cyber bullying on the increase,  many are not being reported for fear of reprisal.  Often the RCMP cannot respond to complaints in time,  due to the nature of time sensitive issues regarding the Internet.

So what can we as parents/teachers do in this situation?

  • Help our students gain awareness of maintaining appropriate digital citizenship, about creating a digital footprint, empowering them with rules and behaviour for fostering online friends.
  • Consider and decide how your family may choose to monitor online and offline conversations.  Teens are often awake late into the night when lights go out.
  • Encourage loving relationship with your developing teen,  that includes lots of openness to discuss all kinds of  topics.
  • Discuss and encourage safe digital citizenship such as those found in moderated sites like our school Ning.
  • Discuss and apply safe strategies around online activities in group Skype/webcam/google hangout chats if there are no moderators.
  • Discuss why there are age restrictions set by social media sites.  As a parent you know your child’s emotional maturity and ability to communicate responsibly.  You may choose to wait until your student is 13 or older before establishing a social network profile.
  • Pray for your students to imbibe wisdom in relationship, and in sharing personal information and healthy self esteem.

My prayer is that as a community we can be accountable for all of our students, and that together we can partner with you as parents to help keep our students safe.

For information on sites which can help you deal with bullying and preventative education go here.  To watch a great powerpoint with good discussion topics go here

Comments

  1. Great post here, Pippa, even given the very difficult topic and tragic situation. I am confronted often by parents admitting they have no idea what their kids are into online, and they don’t know where to start with Internet safety. This is scary. Bottom line: parents must be involved. There are many ‘methods’, ‘techniques’, and ‘strategies’ for keeping kids safe online. But, at the end of the day, the best filter is simply the self-discipline to decide what and what not to watch or be a part of. We all must pray for our kids to develop and mature in a Christ-centered way – maturing in their faith as they journey, explore, test, critique, try, fail, experience, examine, and adopt. Bless you, Paul.

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    • Amen to your thoughts too Paul. Tonight on CBC I heard that the government is enacting laws to charge those who force others to share or sell such images online. I think this a step in the right direction. However you are right about self discipline and even role modelling that ourselves as parents. Prayer in this regard is vital. Blessings Pippa

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  2. Reblogged this on eduglean and commented:

    Great post here from Pippa Davies, our Heritage Christian Learning Commons lead Cybrarian. I too saw The Fifth Estate’s program on CBC and knew I wanted to share and comment on it. Pippa, you beat me to it – so I’m just echoing your thoughts.
    I did lead 3 chapels on the Amanda Todd tragedy last year. I remember it being a very sobering few weeks for our students and for our school. Again, this is why I feel lead to echo and share what Pippa has written.
    I trust you will enjoy her words as much as I did. Paul

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  3. Sarah Bennett says:

    We made a “no privacy” rule early on with the kids so they know that we periodically (and randomly) check their texts and internet history. I’m really looking forward to a field trip to the RCMP where we’ll learn all about Cybersafety from the police. I think it’s going to be really eye-opening for the kids. I’ve talked a lot about the dangers they could encounter online and how to stay safe, but I think they dismiss a lot of what I say as just mom worrying about stuff. Hearing it straight from the RCMP will likely be more effective. All the kids’ electronics get plugged into our central charging station in the evening, so no one has access late at night. And I do like what the other commenter said about self-censoring. They’re learning to do that with literature already and I work with them to continue to develop their own self-censoring skills.

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    • Very good points Sarah. Good to do that at a young age. Then students know nothing has changed:) My hope is that we can have some social media workshops and webinars in the new year, to address the important role of education and self discipline. Thanks so much for sharing! Blessings Pippa

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Trackbacks

  1. […] News articles from the learning commons this month.  Natalie shares more about how to use our commons before purchasing curriculum.  Read more here.  Pippa shares on some ideas about social media and parenting teens.  Read more here. […]

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  2. […] News articles from the learning commons this month.  Natalie shares more about how to use our commons before purchasing curriculum.  Read more here.  Pippa shares on some ideas about social media and parenting teens.  Read more here. […]

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