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.

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.

Here’s a weird thing: my kids don’t use social media to be, you know, social.

The other day, I was scrolling through my own Instagram feed, while my youngest daughter was looking over my shoulder. She was asking why I follow every account I follow. I explained time and again that each account was a friend of mine – some closer than others, but, for the most part, people I’ve met at some point in life and who I wanted to keep in touch with.

In this lesson, students examine a fictional social network profile to learn how online platforms collect data about their users. They then read an article that explains how platforms use this data and explores some of the issues this raises. Finally, they create a mind map of their own online data profile and reflect on how the data they post may be collected and used by others.

In the educational game A Day in the Life of the Jos (Licensed Resource), students in grades six to eight help the brother and sister team Jo and Josie with situations they encounter online as they go about a typical day in their lives.

A Day in the Life of the Jos is a comprehensive digital citizenship tutorial that prepares students in grades six to eight to deal with all of the issues they face when using digital technology – from online privacy, to cyberbullying, to recognizing what’s real and what’s fake online.

I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.

My teens are still young and new to social media, so until now, we’ve mostly been focusing on the risks. Our main message to them has been to be careful, and that less time online is always better.

We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.