School District 69 (Qualicum) will be one of the first districts in the province to host a Safer Schools Together talk titled Social Media Awareness and Parenting in the Digital World.
Taking place Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Qualicum Commons at 7 p.m., the free event is funded by the Ministry of Education, said Gillian Wilson, assistant superintendent with SD69.
Topics to be covered include identifying current apps and trends, brain development in relation to tech and violent video games, the impact of a person’s digital footprint on their future and strategies for how parents can encourage independence while taking a strong stance on certain uses of social media.
In addition to the free parent talk, the district has also arranged for Safer Schools Together to address these issues in talks with students at Kwalikum and Ballenas secondary schools that same day.
“We want to make sure our high school students know how to create a positive social media presence,” said Wilson.
She said she hopes the talk can explain to students the impact of online bullying, as well as drive home the permanence of what they put online, and how that can impact their future.
“I think that our students sometimes live in the now and the moment, and don’t recognize that when they go for that job interview in five or 10 years, often employers are checking to see what kind of presence they have (online).”
There’s also a safety element to discuss, she said, surrounding what information students make available online.
She said one of the popular apps right now is Snapchat and its map function that shows friends their location.
“Wherever they go, if they’ve got that app turned on, everybody can find out where they are if they are part of that (friend) group,” said Wilson.
She said she hopes these kinds of talks get students to consider their own safety and what permissions are being given for some apps.
“(It’s) making sure that when students sign on for apps, they understand what the security settings are on those apps, because if your friends can find out, other people can find out, too.”
But the goal of the discussions isn’t to demonize social media, she said.
“Social media is not a bad thing. It’s a great thing if used in the right way.”
The free parent talk takes place Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Qualicum Commons (744 Primrose St. in Qualicum Beach) starting at 7 p.m.
— NEWS Staff