With the summer upon us, a lot of families will have recently spent time celebrating the end of the school year – and in some cases there were also graduation celebrations! 

Being able to see our kids enjoy these special moments seems particularly poignant given how difficult, and at times isolating, the last few years have been for these students and families. 

Students and educators are already having to deal with artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications on schoolwork, assignments and lessons. When writing an essay, or when completing a school project, generative AI tools like ChatGPT can maybe speed up the results, save time and craft the correct response. Is that a good thing or are we causing more issues for our futures?

I have been blogging for over 14 years, freelance writing for almost as long, and on social media for the same amount of time. It’s become my normal to take photos for sharing later (I rarely share ‘in the moment’) or check the news on a social media website before traditional news outlets online. I actively use my phone to stay connected with family and friends, for my job, and as a camera.

When my kids saw the TikTok app icon on my phone, both of them had the same reaction: “WHAT? Why are you on TikTok?” While I thought it was because they wanted to tell me I was too old for the app, it was more that they really didn’t understand the appeal since they aren’t current users (for now).

Recently, my youngest got a new phone that has data and the ability to text anyone. We’ve been texting with my eldest for some time now too. But after years of communicating this way, it finally happened: We, the parents, were invited into a family group chat.

November 21st marks World Television Day, as chosen by the United Nations in 1996. Naturally, my first reaction is to want to celebrate this day – I love television. TV has been a big part of our lives for a long time, but it has changed a lot since my children (and maybe even yours) were younger. It’s certainly changed since I was a kid.

Parents, you may be aware that Media Literacy Week is October 24-28 and Digital Citizen Day is October 26, but we should talk about digital media literacy all year round. We are raising kids who are going to be so much better at using media for (hopefully) good; for their education, careers, community giving and passions. It’s moving quickly and we are trying to keep up.

“Do you know this meme?” 

One of my kids once asked me that, many years ago, as they were discovering memes on the internet. They asked it as a simple question, but I couldn’t help but pause at their inquiry. It was a hugely popular meme – I have been online for many years, and I know many of us in my (ahem) age group use memes a lot (I’m sometimes referred to as an Xennenial, born in 1980, also called an elder millennial apparently. I think sometimes I’m considered Gen X too). We love memes! 

It’s time to buy a smartphone for my youngest (who is only a few months away from being 14 years old). While we know there are considerations and conversations needed around the use of phones, safety, apps, privacy and other responsibilities when owning a phone, we also know the time is right.

Screen time is a common topic for parents to try and manage today. Are we allowing too much? How do we make it safe? We will ask our friends and fellow parents for their thoughts or advice or learn tips from resources (like MediaSmarts!) to help us navigate this new aspect of parenting. When I was my kids’ age, we were just loading Netscape 2.0 onto our computers, and we’d check our ICQ messages before putting in a VHS to watch a movie or playing some Super Mario RPG.  The online world is so different now.