Important questions

Our 2 days of Parent Orientation were full of seminars designed to answer the “burning questions” asked by lots of parents who are sending their kids to Saint Rose.  Many of the questions were about navigating Saint Rose systems like finances, safety systems, schedules, academic help, dorm rules, and meal plans.  Pretty routine items, all of which are also covered in the handy-dandy parent handbook they put in our lemon yellow bags of orientation info.

One of the most interesting “non-handbook” seminars was on internet security and privacy issues.  This was a parents only seminar (the students were elsewhere talking about diversity, drugs & alcohol and playing rock-paper-scissors).  I was floored at the real lack of understanding among fellow parents of how the internet works, what social networking is, and how it can impact a person.  The seminar was helpful for most, I think, because it opened the parents’ eyes to the existence of social networks, and gave insight into facebook in particular.  I have to say, though, I was left with a sinking feeling about many of the people in the room’s understanding of the presence their kids have on the web – it means they aren’t overseeing their kids’ internet use and safety; they were analog parents in a digital world.  The scariest part of that realization for me was that as they’re sending kids off to college is really too late to seriously influence their teenagers’ behavior on a technology they know far more about than their parents.

Parents: How are you involved in your teenagers’ cyber-life? What are resources you’ve found helpful in learning about internet issues, both the pluses and the minuses of the web’s social world? Are you communicating with your teenagers about those pluses and minuses?

Youth workers: We tend to be more involved online with the youth in our groups than most parents are.  How are you resourcing students, parents and families, if at all, about how social sites work, and the good and bad aspects of using them?

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3 Responses to “Important questions”

  1. adam mclane
    July 19, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    I guess it isn’t a surprise. I guess I also see it as an opportunity. We need to find out a way to help teach youth workers how to help teach parents about internet safety.

  2. Sar
    July 19, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    I guess the biggest thing I do is hold students responsible for the way they represent themselves online. If I see something on Facebook or MySpace that concerns me, I confront them about it. For the most part they take it very well.

    As for the parents, I don’t really talk about it much with them … but you bring up a good point. Maybe I should be.

  3. Tracy
    July 19, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    What a great topic…
    I have most of my youth group members as friends on my facebook. I check them out here and there and give them grief when I see inappropriate things on their pages. I’ve actually had to talk to some of my adult friends about sending Me inappropriate material. Being that I work with teens and work for the church…and that it just isn’t cool… I have one youth group mom who is a member of facebook and all three of her teen girls are her friends, so she can check in on them whenever she wants, and that rocks! I actually have a bunch of friends who are older sisters and have a facebook and myspace account to see what younger siblings are up to. That is one way to find out what your teen is really up to, and how they present themselves to the public. I honestly don’t think some of the teens realize that it is a public space and people you don’t know can spy in on your life. I also have one youth group member who when I confronted him about the pot leaf in his profile picture he deleted me as a friend.
    Lots to think about. Hmmm…how in a cool way to talk to parents about their kids accounts, how to talk to our kids about their accounts.

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