For parents and caregivers who want to know more about the role of social media in their children's lives, there are no better teachers than youth themselves.
Ask the Experts: How Does Your Child Use Social Media? takes place Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m., at Walter Murray Collegiate. Students from Walter Murray will talk about popular social media platforms and how youth use and interact through social media. An officer from the Saskatoon Police Service will share information about online behaviour and what to watch for as parents/caregivers.
It's essential to give youth a role in the education and discussion around social media because they are the ones regularly using social media as part of their peer relationships.
"Their voice has different weight than adults when it comes to learning about social media," said Jill Flath, the Safe, Caring and Accepting Schools consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools.
"Adults can learn so much about the digital world from children and youth but just because youth know how to use social media doesn't mean they necessarily know how to use it safely. There should always be real-life adult support and guidance for children using social media. Understandably, this can be difficult with parents themselves don't feel knowledgeable about social media."
Children and youth want guidance with navigating the online world but feel they can't go to their parent or caregiver, Flath explained. They assume, often correctly, that parents don't know apps and social media platforms such as TikTok or Kik even exist.
"Those conversations are sometimes too big for youth to start," Flath said. "If adults simply know that these social media sites exist, then adults can start the conversation and often youth are happy to continue it."
Smartphone use is widespread among high school students, but with younger elementary students also using smartphones or Wi-Fi enabled devices it's never too early for parents to learn what they can do to help children be safe and responsible digital citizens.
Representation from police will provide perspective on the kind of online behaviours that may be threatening or illegal and what can happen if police have to become involved. The presentation will make parents aware of the pressures and dangers kids are facing online and provide strategies and tips on how to safely monitor and deal with kids' online interaction
"The value of having the multidisciplinary approach with police and the division's Safe, Caring and Accepting Schools is we work together always for our children's safety," Flath said.
"Police can bring the side of things where they have seen things go wrong and situations that might have legal implications for those involved. Police can teach us how to be alert to potentially unsafe situations and how to better prevent things from going down that path."
The social media session for parents and caregivers is part of Saskatoon Public Schools' annual Pink Week, Feb. 24-28. Schools will offer a variety of activities and learning opportunities to highlight the importance of building healthy and respectful relationships in our schools and communities. Students and staff are encouraged to show their support by wearing pink on Pink Day, Wednesday, Feb. 26.