Brought to you by Optus.
As a mother of three boys (one in high school), I am pretty passionate about the role of digital media in their lives.
My mum always says to me, “thank god this wasn’t around when you were at school because you would have driven me mad…” and I probably would have too! I love technology and I am a big user of social media. I love it for so many reasons, but I am also not blinded to the effect it can have on our young people.
Today’s Generation Z (aged 7 – 21) is the first generation to have never known the world without the Internet – can you imagine that! – and the transition from primary to secondary school goes hand-in-hand with a significant increase in Internet use, mobile phone access and social media uptake.
There’s always a level of worry when it comes to my children on social media but we talk about the bad side of it and discuss how to stay safe online all the time. I always try to keep an eye on my children’s behaviour though so I can spot when social media is affecting them or when they’re using it excessively and that’s when I’ll step in. I use Facebook and Twitter regularly but social media is constantly evolving and children are now using platforms that I don’t even understand, such as SnapChat.
I’ve had a few hairy instances myself on social media and I’ve seen a few unfold online so by drawing from my own experiences on social media, I hope I can help educate my own boys on its proper use.
Social media plays a massive role in youngster’s lives and although it’s quite scary it’s here to stay. I would like to see schools introduce it into the curriculum from an early age but I also think parents can talk to their children about right from wrong without understanding the first thing about social media.
Here are some staggering stats gathered via the Optus Digital Thumbprint Report:
Half of young adults wish they had understood the consequences of social media before engaging with it and 70% of young adults are concerned about their safety when using social media:
- 39% obsessively compare their life and achievements to others on social media
- 37% regret one or more selfie they shared online
- FOMO (fear of missing out) affects a quarter of those surveyed (24%), causing them to be hooked on social media,
- 21% find it difficult to get over past relationships
- 17% feel bad about themselves when selfies they post don’t receive enough likes
80% of parents are concerned about their children’s online safety and 9 in 10 want to see schools integrate lessons about social media etiquette and how to stay safe online into the curriculum:
- The risk of attracting strangers is their biggest worry (58%)
- Viewing unsuitable material (47%)
- The risk of online grooming (37%)
- Identity fraud (34%)
- The impact selfies could have on their children’s education and employment prospects (23%).
I am not surprised by these stats really and can see how easy it is for kids to get caught up in a digital world, especially when they don’t understand what they are doing or haven’t been taught right from wrong. Optus Digital Thumbprint initiative, is a free digital citizenship education program for secondary schools in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, that teaches students the benefit of a positive online presence.
Consisting of three face-to-face, curriculum aligned workshops tailored for students in grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
To date, over 84,500 students in 176 high schools have taken part in the workshops, which focus on a range of topics including:
- Keeping safe and secure online
- Safeguarding personal information
- Advantages of a positive online presence
- Consequences of online and social media use
- Dealing with antisocial behaviour online
- Distractions studying Vs socialising online
I’ve been talking to my boys about the internet for the last two years now. I’ve mentioned a few instances where I’ve had a rough run and explained to them how I felt and what affect it had on me. Basically, I want them to know that they are never ever to say unkind things, argue with or abuse anyone from behind a computer screen. In our house, the same rules apply in the school playground as they do on the internet.
I want them to understand that the internet and social media are not always happy places and if something happens they must tell me about it. But I also teach them about the positive aspects, such as my work online, the way I network using Twitter and Instagram and the great people I speak to everyday because of it.
How do you feel about your kids living in an online world? Do you think parents or schools need to take a bigger role?