Addressing the important question of “How do we keep our kids safe online?”

Stock Photo Child with Laptop

Join us for “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” – Kingsway College School on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

When organizing a panel for our February 9th KCS  Encouraging Dialogue Speakers Series, our committee kept hearing from families that they would like this year’s panel to address issues around social media and our children.

To start our search for speakers, we called KCS alumna Marianne B ‘01., whose work is with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University.  Marianne’s expertise helped guide us in the right direction, and this year’s panel is a result of her leadership.

In our initial conference call, Marianne said something that really resonated with our group.  I’m paraphrasing now, but she said, “When I was in grade 5 at KCS, at the end of the day I went home, played with my toys, ate dinner, did my homework, maybe did some extra-curricular activities or spoke on the phone, and then went to bed.  I didn’t have a phone connected to the Internet, and I didn’t have a laptop or iPad in my room.”  And this was only a little over a ten years ago.

A short pause to think about how things have changed, and will continue to change for our children, leaves one amazed.

Marianne and her parents did not have to deal with cellphones, texting, Facebook’s Likes and Dislikes, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or cyberbullying.   Although we might not have appreciated it at the time, I’m sure a number of today’s parents would like to see a return to just having their children play with their toys after school.  But that’s not going to happen.  For today’s parents and their children the ‘online world’ is a big part of their everyday lives.  Given this, how can we help our children navigate their digital experiences and keep them safe online?

We are confident our Encouraging Dialogue panel will help families address this important question.  We look forward to seeing you at “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Derek Logan
Head of School

The Jekyll and Hyde of the Internet

Good and BadThe Toronto Star recently published an article asking, “Is the internet bad for us?”. Good question.

Nothing excites me more than each step forward in doing our best for students. Every concern addressed, every lesson made more impactful, and every child we more effectively connect with is the reward that reenergizes us for the next day. While not always the case, technology and the Internet, in the hands of a determined and mindful teacher, frequently play a role in these steps forward. Though I stand firmly in the camp that says the technology glass is more than half full, I’ve seen enough to know that keeping The Star’s question in the back of our minds is an important part of ensuring the glass doesn’t get knocked over.

The article lists many reasons for concern: family time dominated by laptops and texting, decreased ability to converse, constant desire for affirmation, lack of time alone with one’s thoughts or playing side-by-side with others, etc. The social conflicts inherent in growing up now often play out in cyberspace, where slights, or worse, take on a much greater significance than anything the pre-Internet generation had to face. Growing up is hard, and this generation’s abundant use of the Internet amplifies the highs and lows of this critical stage. Raising children is hard, and the Internet has likewise been a mixed blessing for parenting.

The Internet is here to stay, and to bemoan what’s bad is to miss out on all that’s good. But to revel in the positive without attention to what’s not is unwise. Teaching responsible use of the Internet is now part of what schools must do. Monitoring and having reasonable limits on use at home is now part of what parents must do. With these efforts in place, we can happily answer the opening question, “It could be bad, but not in my family.”

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

Blurring the Online Boundary

Parenting and online safetyIf you’ve heard of the ‘information highway’ you’ll know that social media is taking over much of this traffic. If you’ve heard of ‘surfing the web’, you’ve just dated yourself. Students just refer to the web as ‘being online’.

As students begin joining social media at a younger age, the online boundary shifts just a little more. When does it stop? What can we do? Does it need to stop?

Social media is ubiquitous in today’s society and can play a fantastic role in a child’s development. Be an active part of this and let your child share with you what is happening on Facebook or Club Penguin. Have frequent open discussions about the various types of comments posted by users on Grooveshark or YouTube. These are but a few popular social media apps that our children frequently visit. Share your favourite social media apps, comments, tweets or conundrums. It’s okay to let our kids know that we’re fallible and that we also enjoy social media, albeit different social media apps. And of course, within these wonderful conversations, build in talks about privacy settings, risks, consequences and ‘your rules’.  Be strong, yet gentle.

As your child grows older, the boundary will blur and morph. Let it be a natural, agreeable transition. Good luck!

Stacy Marcynuk
Director of IT, Curriculum
Kingsway College School

Some great online safety resources: