Last week I had the privilege of representing Common Sense Media at a Parent Night in a neighboring school district. The topic was supporting children in the responsible use of social media. I was the first speaker and was allotted 15 minutes to introduce parents to the wealth of resources Common Sense Media offers parents, starting with an opening 30-second video:
…and then moving on to share a quick sampling of:
- Video Reviews (for movies, TV,books, games, apps) – Rated for age, quality and learning, based on child development guidelines.
- Parent Concerns Center – Advice and resources to help parents take control of children’s digital lives.
- Parent Advice Videos – Ranges from “What Is Instagram?” to “How to Manage Preschoolers’ App Time
- Connecting Families – Great ideas and guides to help parents plan social media events at their children’s schools. Love the guide for hosting a student-led panel!
I love it when a presenting opportunity also turns into a learning opportunity. In addition to Common Sense Media, the PTA had also invited a second speaker: Marsali Hancock, founder and CEO of iKeepSafe. I first heard Marsali speak three years ago at a wonderful Digital Citizenship Summit sponsored by Yahoo (wish Yahoo were still sponsoring this event, which was well worth the drive to Silicon Valley!). I was delighted for a second opportunity to listen to and learn from Marsali. She is an outstanding presenter. For instance, rather than follow my Common Sense Media slideshow with an iKeepSafe slideshow, she initiated a highly engaging conversation with the parents by asking parents to share their concerns about their children’s use of the Internet and social media. Parents first shared with their table neighbors, and then contributed to the whole group.
Within minutes, Marsali addressed all their questions. She pulled from recent research for a number of the questions – and stressed the need for balance, a key component of iKeepSafe’s Be a Pro program and website. She also stressed the need for parents to step away from “distracting parenting” in order to model balance of online time for their children.
Marsali’s last tip was one I had not thought of including in a digital citizenship program: the need to monitor our credit ratings. She cited the example of a young woman who graduated from high school and went on to college without needing to take out student loans. Upon graduating from college, she went on to and graduated from law school, again, with no loans. It was when she began applying for jobs that she discovered she had a huge problem: a terrible credit rating. How had this happened? Apparently children are four times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults. Such was the case with this young woman. For years, someone had been charging away, using various credit cards opened in her name.
I know the parents in attendance truly appreciated the resources, tips, and conversations shared at this 90-minute event. I left with a renewed appreciation of the commitment both Common Sense Media and iKeepSafe have made to providing parents and educators with dynamic FREE resources for helping our children/students become firmly grounded in what it means to be a positive, contributing (digital) citizen.