It’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.
We’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.
Our 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.
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.
My two oldest kids started grades 10 and 11 in September. As usual, they took their smartphones with them the first day.
When they arrived home, I asked them how their classes had went, and they said that every single class had talked about the Ontario government’s new policy about cell phones in school – that is, that cell phones are to be used only for educational purposes, or health or special needs, during class time.
I am lucky enough to work from home and have a flexible work schedule, so my kids have always been stay-at-home kids in the summer. They have some daily chores and other special work to do over the summer, but in general they have a lot of free time on their hands.