A evening of social media awareness and parenting in the digital world was a wealth of information recently.
Sam Jingfors, vice president of Ensuring Safe and Caring School Communities lead the discussion with parents recently at Senator Riley School.
He says one of the major things is for parents to not be afraid of technology.
"At this point in their kids lives parenting, as well as education, is at its most important point. They still need direction on entering the world. Whether it be a digital world or not there's no app for morality and there's no website for empathy."
He adds parents play a critical role within the development of their kids.
"Trying to just have more common conversations about technology and more frequent ones in their household is ultimately going to be better in that they will be approachable if an issue does come up."
Jingfor adds parents need to walk along side of their children into this world.
"Instead of prohibit, prohibit, prohibit and then, 'Oh no they are in this world and how do I catch up?' It pays dividends to try and establish that open dialogue around technology."
He said the time for these issues being taboo, when the adults know nothing, is in the past.
"The sooner we start having more open conversations about the challenges and risks they are being exposed to the better off they will ultimately be, because they will be more inclined to talk to us to deal with those issues."
His talk focused on the good things that are happening in technology, things the public doesn't hear a lot about.
"All of the great stories we hear on a daily basis, with kids being up-standers and putting their foot down against cyber bulling."
He says this is the fourth industrial revolution and there is no playbook for what is going on in the moment and we will look back at this time and say this was a pivotal transition period.
Loriann Salmon, director of inclusive learning with the Foothills School Division says having Jingfors share his knowledge made for a few busy days but there was lots of good information shared.
Jingfor was also here in October and he did some training with administrators and worked with parents and students at Okotoks Junior High.
"It is really building student understanding and awareness and staff understanding and parents. We are kind of coming at it from all angles," said Salmon.
Parent and teacher Tesa Weber-Larsen says the information Jingfor shared is information every teacher, parent, grandparent and every youth should have access too.
"I am aware of the challenges we face as parents raising youth in the social media world. It is a struggle to stick to the boundaries that we have," said Weber-Larsen.
She brought her son to the talk so he heard the parent perspective from a few different adults.
"A lot of people are not aware of just how addictive social media is as well as video games are. I think we need to set very clear boundaries."
She adds parents need to encourage kids to be creative in other ways.
"It is very easy to get caught up with, 'Oh lets check our Instagram for 10 or 15 minutes,' and pretty soon it has been an hour. The loss of time it is devastating to our creatively and our health. We don't get outside and play like we use to."
She adds a lot of children are missing out on the real life benefits of random, because we are so focused on being entertained all the time.
For more information check out Jingfors website.
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