Friday, September 23, 2011

Parenting the Facebook Generation

On September 14, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology held “Social Media Summit 2011”, a gathering of great minds and perspectives on all things related to Social Media.  The organizers of the event were clear to point out that they did not want to offer topics that were found everywhere else, and they certainly succeeded on that front!  Among the many sessions was the topic of “Parenting the Facebook Generation”, a session full of useful tips, interesting facts, and heartfelt stories.
First to speak was Linda Fogg Phillips, a mother of eight (!) and the author of Facebook for Parents, Answers to the Top 25 Questions.  She was also commissioned by Facebook to be the lead author for their Facebook for Educators Guide, so she certainly knows her stuff.  Linda shared personal anecdotes about how she dealt with technology issues within her own family, and also provided her perspective, not necessarily about “how to use Facebook”, but rather “how to think about Facebook” as part of all the tools that parents have at their disposal.  A key point that Linda made; kids often equate their Facebook presence to their own personal bedroom, but it is much more like the front lawn; the neighbors all know what you’re up to, and what you do reflects upon the rest of your family.

Next up was Dr. Simon Casey, an emotions expert, therapist, and health care consultant.  He brought the topic of Cyber Bulling to light for the participants.  Dr. Casey provided the characteristics of both the bully and the victim, to help to better identify issues before they fester. 

Did you ever wonder who is ‘out there’ monitoring online chat sessions on kid-focused web sites?  Well it’s Izzy Neis on the other side of the screen, keeping unruly kids in line, identifying trends, and even occasionally finding the troubled child who is sharing their pain online.  Izzy is the VP of User Engagement at kids’ social media platform Everloop.  She is doing God’s work out there helping to keep kids safe, but I don’t know how she doesn’t have nightmares every night, based on some of the stories she told!  Facebook and similar sites are now the recess playground of days past, and it should be treated as such by parents.  She shared the types of behaviors she tends to see online and categorized them from the innocuous stuff, to the downright dangerous, and how they handle them as online network managers.

Finally it was Dr. Alfred Mueller, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. Dr. Mueller shared a personal story of her daughter being bullied, both online and in person, and the steps that he took (and all parents should follow) to correct the situation.  He was very clear to say that ignoring the problem online (i.e. unfriending the offenders) will not 
make them go away, and could just make it worse!


If this summary interests you, then check out the video replay of the entire session. 

While much of the rest of the Social Media Summit focused on business uses of these tools, this session was special in that it focused on a much more important topic, our children.  The next Social Media Summit is set for Wednesday, May 23, 2012.  The 2012 event is set to coincide with "National Social Media Day" events underway around the nation. Take advantage of this FREE event to build your knowledge of social media topics!

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