While at the recently held conference on The Ethical Use of the Internet hosted by UNESCO in St Kitts & Nevis, we spoke with Mr. Briggs Deloach of the Berkman Centre-Harvard University about the work done at the Centre and their findings.
The Berkham Centre is typically focused on Youths and their use of technology and social media he explained. Most of their work has been based on studies and data gathered from the United States and other developed economies, however some of the trends should give parents and adults who engage with youths some hope and food for thought.
In speaking to Mr. Briggs Deloach he was keen to point out that while youths would consult or seek advice from their friends and peers about the appropriateness of a post or before posting a picture, youths would also seek the advice of adults.
He said that their research showed that youths would ask parents or teachers for their opinion as to how they should deal with a moral dilemma or challenge that they may have with their relationships or future relationships with their peers, wider social network or society.
This should bring into focus the important role parents and adults play and can play in shaping the interactions of youths on social media and in protecting them from “virtual” or “online” harm just as they would physical harm in the physical world.
Parents and adults generally, rather than shunning social media should embrace it and have conversations with their children or wards to discuss its use. Talk about the trends and the different platforms. Parents by modelling or setting an appropriate example can influence and open the door for their children to have a conversation about the appropriate use of social media.
Briggs while stressing that these were the findings in the US did indicate a willingness to assist in a data gathering exercise in the Caribbean, and other developing Countries.
What became apparent during and as a result of the conference was the urgent need for gathering qualitative data and conducting the analysis within the OECS and wider Caribbean. There are a lot of opinions and positions being taken and policies made in the absence of real facts, or even awareness.
Government agencies and private sector entities need to educate their senior management and staff as to what is acceptable and appropriate use of social media in the workplace. Social media can be an effective internal communications tool, and also a time bomb if used inappropriately. The skill is knowing how to use it!
An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams has extensive experience as an IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN