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.

Cyber Choices is an interactive game designed to help students in grades 3 to 5 develop the skills and habits they need to make safe and responsible choices online. Cyber Choices lets students explore four different stories that cover key issues such as making good choices about their own and others’ personal information, dealing with cyberbullying (as both a target and a witness) and managing online conflict. 

Lynn JataniaMy middle daughter hates looking over my shoulder when I’m on my Instagram account and seeing that I have many, many unwatched “stories.”

Stories in Instagram are usually short video clips that are temporary – they exist for 24 hours and then they are gone. You can save favourite stories as ‘highlights’ that live on your profile, but for the most part they’re intended to disappear.

Lynn JataniaIt’s looking more and more like social distancing could go on for several months. Our school board has announced that computer-based learning from home will be introduced shortly; other provinces have announced school closures running through to the end of the year and we expect ours to follow suit soon.

Photo of Lynn JataniaWe’re living in a strange and uncertain time. Already, as parents, we’re feeling our way to the right set of rules and guidelines for screens and social media. But now that we’re facing an extended time of quarantine and social distancing, the rules are bending and changing every day.

By Samantha McAleese, research associate at MediaSmarts and
David Fowler, vice-president, marketing and communications at CIRA.

Author: Lynn JataniaOur youngest daughter, who is in Grade Seven this year, is moving up the social media ladder.

She has her own tablet to use on the Wi-Fi at home and recently got her own Instagram account. She’s really loving the ability to share pics with her friends and chat with them online – especially because her two older siblings have been Instagramming and texting for at least three years now.

My youngest daughter has a brand new Instagram account, and she’s excited about it. Unlike my older two, she actually does use it to post. Since she doesn’t have a cell phone she uses her tablet at home, so her posts are always things we are doing around the house: artwork or craft projects she’s done, what we’re having for dinner, or the occasional nice outfit she wants to share.

Family Guidelines for New Tech Devices

MediaSmarts’ research has shown that kids with rules in the home about tech use are less likely to do things like post their contact information, visit gambling or pornography sites and talk to strangers online. Having a family agreement or set of rules for using devices is also a great way for parents and kids to work together on how to be safe, wise and responsible online.

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