Tag Archives: social media

Growing Up Digital – advice for parents

Ramona StillarThree main themes emerged from Ramona Stillar’s presentation to parents who attended the first Growing Up Digital presentation at St. Peter’s School in Unity, Sask.,  Feb. 27 – we have to teach kids not to share too much, kids will make mistakes which need to be forgiven, and the opportunity the Internet gives kids to change the world.

(If you missed this one, you can still come to the next session, Thursday, March 27, 7 pm, at St. Peter’s School where Stillar will walk parents through a variety of specific social networks. Bring your phone, tablet or laptop!)

Part of being safe online relates to life skills. Stillar spoke about the seven Cs – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. For example, it takes confidence to not share too much online. Learning how to cope with stress, such as a fight with a friend, might include not posting derogatory things online about that friend.

Stillar pointed out sometimes children will forget about setting privacy settings. As a result, they may not be sharing information or photos with who they think they are.

Everyone needs to understand the online audience is real and includes many more people than actual friends.

Stillar asked how many parents knew someone who, when younger, had mooned people on the street from a car or school bus window. The only difference today is the size of the audience. Yesterday it was the people on the street at that point in time; today it can be thousands and even millions of people.

“Kids will make mistakes! And we have to forgive them … How would you deal with it if it wasn’t online?” The behaviours are the same; it is the bigger audience that is the difference.

Another example Stillar raised was drinking at university: “We all know kids have been doing that for decades.” She hopes adults, including university officials and future employers, understand “that is not what that kid is going to do forever…. A mistake online, even though the audience is larger, shouldn’t be game-changing for them.”

Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them. Parental forgiveness is important.

Young people are digitally fluent. They know their way around the Internet and how to find information, images and videos. The focus though tends to be looking at what others have created.

Stillar said, “Right now most of us are consumers of information on the Internet. The vast majority of us need to start thinking more in terms of producing … because that’s where the power is.”

She urged parents to help kids understand they can create and produce content for an audience we as parents never had the ability to reach. They can control what goes online and they can influence world-wide change. Marc and Craig Kielburger, We Day founders, are great examples.

Credit: pingdom.comAsked about specific social media sites, Stillar said, “I can guarantee you that as soon as parents are on Snapchat, kids will be off it and on to the next thing. You do have to realize as parents that you can arm yourselves with all the information, you can get yourselves on all those social networks, you can start leveraging them and using them for your businesses and the work that you do but, at the end of the day you will never, ever be able to keep up with all the other apps that are going to come out.”

That’s why teaching children how to be safe online, and do well in life generally, is so important.

Stillar’s next presentation will be March 27, in workshop format as parents learn to use some of the most popular online social media sites. An April session will focus on cyberbullying.

Students learn about workplace bullying

After guest speaker Blake Fly of Toronto, Ont., concluded his presentation to assembled students from Unity Composite High, McLurg High, Luseland and Macklin schools, Feb. 4, a panel discussion on bullying, harassment and the use of social media in the workplace took place.

(For more information on Fly’s presentation, see the February 10th issue of the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald or http://unitystories.com/judger-or-nudger/)

Panel members were local lawyer Ken Neil; human resources personnel for both the Unity Credit Union, Alan Zimmer, and Living Sky School Division, Brenda Vickers; Lana Mabbett from Heartland Health; local business owner Mike Wismer; RCMP Cst. Eric Macdonald; and Living Sky’s superintendent of schools, curriculum and instruction, Brian Quinn.

UCHS presentationUCHS student Zoher Rafid-Hamed posed questions to different panel members in turn. Responses and comments made by panel members included the following.

Quinn talked about a specific incident in a Living Sky school where an inappropriate comment was made to a student and other students immediately stepped in to tell the offending student it was inappropriate. “No tool is as powerful as peers stepping in,” he said, telling the students that, more and more, “who” you are is more important than the talents or skills you have.

Zimmer reinforced that statement when he explained that, even before someone is hired at the credit union, they try to weed out people who will not fit in. For example, a potential new employee will be asked specific questions about how he or she deals with conflict.

Vickers echoed Zimmer’s comments about the hiring process. She added that, at the school division, reference checking is done not only to confirm skills and abilities but also to ask questions about relationships and how a person solves problems.

In any organization, Zimmer said, “you have a responsibility to everyone in that organization.”

He was referring to workplace bullying and harassment at the time, but that responsibility holds true to the use of social media as well – no matter whether an employee is at work or at home.

Vickers said, even when at home, if you are talking about someone from work online, the employer can take action. Mabbett added, even when you are off duty, you still represent the place you work.

Mabbett cautioned students to establish a positive digital footprint or they may even find themselves not being able to be licensed in the field for which they studied. She gave the example of seeing a photo of a surgeon drunk at a Saturday night party – would she want that doctor operating on her Monday morning?

A video of the panel’s entire presentation is available online at http://streaming.lskysd.ca/, under the heading Social Media and Respectful Relationships.