More Facebook time for parents, says SD43 online expert
The same techniques parents use in everyday activities can be used to guide youngsters through the perils of the online universe, says Dave Sands of School District 43.
Sands, who works as a district energy manager, offers internet workshops for parents to help them deal with their children's internet use; he'll lead one tomorrow (Saturday) at the Executive Plaza Hotel and Conference Centre sponsored by the Coquitlam District Parent Advisory Council.
Sands' philosophy is permissive when it comes to allowing children to use the internet — within certain boundaries. His advice to parents, even if they don't know Facebook from Twitter, is to work collaboratively with their children to establish expectations of appropriate internet use.
Although technology may be new and unfamiliar to some, parenting interactions aren't any different and tough calls have to be made. If a young person exceeds limits on screen time, natural consequences, such as giving up online privileges, would follow. But don't take away the computer, completely, Sands said, as that will just send a child underground and "you'll never hear anything again."
Similarly, inappropriate commenting on Facebook could be dealt with the same way as a face-to-face interaction, with a retraction and an apology.
Sands suggests developing a contract with children, giving them a say in the rules and the consequences. They will be less likely to break the rules because they would be "breaking their own integrity."
He also counsels parents to be involved as much as possible with their children online and not just in policing computer use. When his daughter used a web cam to talk on the internet, Sands did the same, and says parenting online is easier when parents are pro-active rather than reactive.
"If you're not aware and not in it with them, you don't know [what's happening], that's the whole thing."
• The parent education workshop will be held Saturday, May 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Executive Plaza Hotel and Conference Centre, 405 North Rd., Coquitlam. Pre-registration is required; to confirm, call 604-939-3690.