Trust your children, know their tools
Alec Couros is going directly to the source when it comes to keeping up with teenagers’ social media trends, which platforms they’re using and how.
“I spend most of the time working directly with teens, talking to them and trying to find out what they’re using,” says Couros. “And it’s interesting. When a researcher walks into a room, they’re much more excited to tell me what’s going on, especially when I can relate to them with what they know, the way that they know the world such as memes, through YouTube videos. Sort of the things that are their inside jokes.”
Couros is a professor at the University of Regina, a researcher and speaker specializing in social media and digital citizenship. He made his presentation Raising the Selfie Generation to North Bay parents Monday night.
“Some parents feel they know the tools, they’re connecting. I’m here to convince them that perhaps they don’t know everything when it comes to the fine details.”
More than 40 people attended Couros’ presentation, which was organized by the parent involvement committee of the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board.
“As a community,” says education superintendent Paula Mann, “we can learn how to migrate in this ever-changing environment that our children and youth are actively participating in in terms of social media.”
Couros’ presentation gave parents a look into what their children may be up to online. He also answered their questions about how to help and protect their children on social media.
“’How do I keep up?’ is probably the No. 1 question. ‘How do I
watch what’s going on the phone?’ which I often, unfortunately, have to tell them is impossible. You can’t. The new apps, you can’t know what’s going on.”
Some parents are concerned about what their children are doing and seeing online. Couros assured them “the vast majority of what kids are doing on their phone is positive.”
Couros advises parents to get on the apps like Snapchat and Instagram themselves, learn as much as they can about the technology and insist their children keep their passwords in an envelope in case mom or dad needs to get access.
“It’s a bit of a compromise. ‘I don’t need to be in your everyday face, but I need to have a reasonable amount of trust that you’re going to use these tools wisely.’
“All this comes down to is trust and building a trusting relationship with your kids. And also, at the same time, if you know the tools well enough you’re going to feel better with questions to ask when you’re talking to your kids.”