I am thrilled to have Jesse Miller of Mediated Reality posting on North Shore Mama. I first met Jesse during one of his presentations to a gymnasium filled with young North Vancouver students. Jesse has the amazing ability of engaging the kids on a topic they are very familiar with, without his discussion feeling like a ‘lecture’ for them. He finds a way of educating both parents and children about the importance of online safety in a language that can be understood by both groups. Jesse in an invaluable resource and, if you live in Greater Vancouver, your children will likely have the opportunity to partake in one of his conversations during the school year. Lucky them and lucky you!
So, without further ado… here’s Jesse.
The new school year is upon us and North Shore parents are full of excitement. The kids might not be as excited to return but they should be, especially considering the technology opportunities available in North and West Vancouver schools this year. Parents, as your kids head back to class learning about the technology engagement activities that are being developed by SD44 & SD45 teachers should be a priority for you. These teachers are eager to use the technology available inside our great North Shore schools, but the tech your kids will most likely be bringing with them in the form of a mobile device or tablet shouldn’t be hidden away in their pocket or bag – learning how to responsibly use mobile communications inside schools will not only prepare them for learning but also prepare them for the demands of the professional world as we see technology develop over the next decade.
As a parent, you can use this opportunity at the start of a school year to keep your kids safer and online aware while allowing them the freedom to enjoy technology by introducing the topics of social media use, Internet gaming, texting, and online behavioural expectations by setting the tone in September. Let’s be honest to start, North Shore kids have tech, and lots of it, and they’re connected to an online world that might seem overwhelming to parents.
To address this, start by considering how you would control use of the Internet at home, and how you can take steps to monitor how the Internet is accessed in your house. I never recommend filters or monitoring software unless your (tween or teen) child has given you previous reasons to not trust their online activities. By requiring laptops, tablets, and computers to be in open areas of the home, you are preventing your child from isolating themselves when they are online. Internet users under eleven/twelve years of age need constant monitoring online.
1. Consider limiting the amount of time to use the Internet for your kids and the parents in the home.
Reduce “double screen” time where they watch television and look at their iPod or phone. Consider setting the standard for the family by establishing the time for when the phones go down, not just for the kids, but for all family members.
2. Do not hesitate to set rules for mobile devices.
Reflect on when you were a child and the fear you had when a friend called past 8PM – your parents were guardians of communications in your childhood home and it was rude to call past a certain hour – let’s not move too far from that value of respect just because your child has their own communication tool. Set the rules as you expect the devices to be used – they will mimic your use.
3. Is your child texting on their phone or mobile device?
Have they downloaded multiple applications to text for free (parents love free) but you don’t know which? Look at the download history and don’t hesitate to ask your child about every application they use. Google that application and look at reviews, news stories and other parents’ reviews. Encourage your kids to read their most recent text messages out loud to encourage communication based on your expectation of appropriate use. I would highly suggest against snooping through the messages (unless you can defend the reasons to your child) as it is similar to your parents reading your diary or journal as a child – privacy trust is key when it comes to online communication but don’t hesitate to parent that communication based on the values of your home.
4. Learn about the trends.
Kids love photographs these days seem to not value what they are placing online. Ask them what the world needs to see before they post and try to encourage a sense of self as it applies to giving pictures away to the Internet – would they post the same photo if it cost $1? If the answer is no, remind them that a photo of your child is priceless to you, no stranger online needs it for likes. The current trend of Instagram or Snapchat encourages kids to post pictures online to share for fun, likes, followers, or the perception that it deletes. Users, including unknown adults, rate, and solicit these pictures and flirtatiously, or without mercy, comment. This can lead to a number of social media issues including bullying and digital footprint/reputation concerns as your child moves through school.
Going back to school is a busy and exciting time of the year. Parents, teachers and those connected kids are busy gearing up. Use this time to create safer, secure, and aware users by encouraging your kids and yourself to share the minimum amount of personalised information with the online world.
Jesse Miller @mediatedreality
Jesse Miller is a social media safety educator and a North Vancouver resident– information about his work and programs available for schools & parents is available at www.mediatedreality.com