Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Messaging Social Media to Parents: The Crossing the Digital Divide Presentation

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of parents about Social Media and Children's usage. There are a lot of big names out there willing to take funds for this purpose, but we have found that it there are a number of advantages to keeping it in-house. Beyond budgetary thoughts, this is a great way to help strengthen the partnership between parents and school faculty/administration about this digital world in which we spend so much time.

Based on this experience i wanted to share some of the findings and research to the blog, but i wanted to do it in a way that might be useful to other schools doing the same thing. You get to judge how useful these meandering thoughts are to you. Comments are always welcome. For I bit more orgnaization, I refer you to the  Lord of the Flies Rant. This is an important issue from which educational systems have for the most part abdicated their role.

My Word Things Have Changed
The last time I presented to the parent group at school was 2008. So like all good presenters, i went digging through my (at the time) PowerPoint folder and discovered the original presentation. Wow! Things have really changed.
  • The "Social Network to watch" was this new-fangled thing called Twitter
  • A huge recommendation was to keep the digital devices (I called it a computer) in public spaces in the home -- hard to do with these new-fangled phone thingys the kids have.
  • I predicted that Social media would grow with you seeing more social media on news casts, websites, and billboards -- virtual as extension of real life.
The Presentation 
(note, I talk a lot more than is on the slides. Comment if you want follow-up posts)

The struggles in creating  these presentations are multiple - Some Advice in Development:
  • There are real social media concerns, but it easy to fall into the scare-monger trap of talking about nothing but stranger danger. Back up your commentary with research. The Pew Internet and American Life Project's work with Teens is phenomenal and worthy of our support as educators.
  • There is a real gap between parent and student comfort with technology and social networks. This discomfort leads some people to SHUT DOWN which is never a good option. Demonstrate the broad strokes of social networks as people ask about them (you will get the "what is twitter?" question, so let it happen naturally).
  • There is no magic app or program or technique that will alleviate all of the fear or concern. Parenting in this day and age is tough and it is easy to see social media as the digital straw that will break our collective backs. But (see magic bullet slide below) we have two things going for us:
    • Parents are the source of information that teenagers WANT to rely on for difficult situations
    • Good parenting: open communication, clear expectations, reasonable boundries works for social media talks as well as it does for most other parenting situations.
  • This stuff moves fast. Keep the information current and updated.
  • Give examples. Give scenarios for parents to think through. 
  • Leave lots of time open for questions -- They will have them and they are good!
Create a Forum to Keep the Information Flowing - 
The How to "Privacize" Facebook Part of the Blog
Parents were thrilled to hear that as a part of our required Freshman course on Digital Citizenship, we offered a "how to check your privacy settings on Facebook" lesson. What was interesting (but not surprising) is that they wanted the information as well. Be ready for a feedback forum. Since I gave my blog, here you go:
  1. Watch the video below a couple of times. It is the "where to go"
  2. Read each section carefully. If you are not sure what something is talking about (for example "tagging" is referring to a Facebook user with a link to their profile. You can tag pictures, articles, posts, etc.) then a) look it up or b) when in doubt, lock it down.
  3. Think about who you want to see what. FRIENDS, FRIENDS OF FRIENDS, NETWORKS (less common anymore), and PUBLIC are all options in Facebook. 
  4. Periodically Google yourself to see what is public.

(Taken from the 2008 Presentation and Refreshed with links in the presentation):

·         http://Staysafe.org
·         http://clubpenguin.com