In September St. Kitts-Nevis UNESCO Secretariat hosted the first OECS Conference on the Ethical Dimensions of Internet Use and Cyber Security. The Conference drew on expertise from International agencies, and data from the US and Europe. What became abundantly clear was the need for the OECS and by extension the Wider Caribbean to conduct our own studies and gather our own data as to trends, and learn how our youths and teens are using social media and tech in general.
As a parent I try to gather info and learn as much as possible for the most important job I will have, that of being a parent. Last week while listening to the The Wired Home School Podcast, now I don’t home school my children, but like all parents I am my children’s first teacher and I have to be able to prepare them for life. I’m also a Tech Professional so it may have something useful that I should know about.
The topic of a recent show was focused on how teens use social media, and how parents can help their teens avoid some of the drama that can be problematic with their use of social media. The show revealed that teens were not so much addicted to their devices or Social Media itself, but they were obsessed by seeing what their peers were doing – usually without them – or what was being said about them.
Going back to the information shared by Dr. Sandra Cortesi of Harvard University Berkman Centre, that the internet presents opportunities as well as problems. Being aware of the problem presents an opportunity to find a solution that is appropriate for you and your household or Country. This presents us with the opportunity to have a conversation with our children about how they use the internet & social media; whether they use Facebook or Instagram and what is it they use it for?
As the speaker in the audio clip from the Wired Home School mentions, it gives you as the parent and adult the ability to set the values your child should accept and respect. It should give you the space to validate your child and let them know that they don’t need 50 Facebook likes to feel good about themselves.
The audio clip has some useful insights as to how some kids in the US use social media to bully and intimidate others. But what the piece reemphasizes is that we really have no hard data as to what the practice is in the Caribbean.
We and more importantly you as a parent are going to have to do the work yourself to find out what is going on with your child. In some cases that might mean “checking yourself”.
Children model the behaviour of the parents or adults they see. So just as I occasionally hear an echo from my children that gives me a moment of pause or a wake up call, so too would be the case with our cyber activity!
While OECS and perhaps CARICOM Secretariats deliberate on perceived greater issues we as parents and responsible adults are going to have to take responsibility. Take the steps and educate ourselves to the practices elsewhere, talk to our children and use the net for education as well as entertainment. The dictionary should not be the only place where education comes before entertainment.
An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since the l998, 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