Guest post by Amil Niazi, cultural critic, writer and showrunner for CBC’s Pop Chat.

This is a transcript of a presentation by Amil Niazi on October 28, 2021 as part of MediaSmarts Presents The Walrus Talks: Our Digital Lives (a Media Literacy Week event).

If you have children who have access to a phone and the ability to text, you may be venturing into a completely new area of communication with them. Have you noticed emoji replies? Or abbreviated statements? GIF-only responses or memes that you have to Google to understand? You aren’t alone.

So what should parents make of this?  

Matthew JohnsonThey say the future comes when you aren’t looking. This Media Literacy Week, we are reflecting on how the pandemic has changed how we interact with media and each other. Certainly a few years ago, not many of us could have imagined we’d be spending a fair portion of our lives doing video chats, which were considered obsolete and mostly reserved for keeping in touch with friends and family far away.

Lynn JataniaOur youngest is about to turn 14, and that means it’s time for the last member of our family to get her own cell phone.

We decided back when our oldest was heading off to high school that age 14, Grade 9, is cell phone time for our family. We’ve been happy with that decision – it seemed like the right time in terms of maturity, and also it became clear that having a phone to use in class at high school was beneficial and even expected.

Matthew JohnsonMeet Sasha. At age 8, she’s a real social butterfly, both online and off, and is very concerned with how the world sees her: she spends a lot of time making sure she looks good in photos online but doesn’t always think twice about who might see them. Violet is Sasha’s older sister and her polar opposite: she’s a hardcore gamer, and just as tough as her Level 65 Barbarian. Though she despairs of her sister sometimes, she’s also fiercely protective of her and will unleash her considerable wrath on anyone she thinks is picking on Sasha.

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