Some thoughts on how to parent in the age of social media

Danah Boyd

I am a big fan of Danah Boyd, a researcher in media, culture and communication. I like her approach to youth and social media- it is well-rounded, not sensationalist and always intelligent.

I came across this article she wrote on her blog entitled Three Conversations for parents: navigating networked publics.

Here is an excerpt:

In many ways, the advice that children need to negotiate networked publics parallels advice that parents have always given when their children encounter public spaces. To address online safety concerns, parents need to help build resilience generally.

Boyd emphasizes the important point that the virtual is an extension of the physical. Mostly the same rules apply. But it is also a place that allows for more nuanced, longer lasting mistakes which means our conversations with our children have to be more nuanced as well:

A conversation about sex and sexuality in a networked world needs to include a variety of issues, including navigating desire and respect, the importance of trust and the potential for trust to be violated, the desire to be loved and the potential consequences of falling in love. It never was simply about pregnancy and STDs, but networked technologies highlight how important it is that we go beyond those topics in our contemporary birds and bees talk.

Boyd addresses the kind of role parents should have in helping their children navigate the online world (arguably the same role they have in navigating the physical world).

So what role does the school have? Does it overlap? I would argue that the school’s role is an extension of the parents role in terms of helping the student put their “best foot forward” online. The school should teach students the large potential for learning and collaboration integral to social media and how best to harnass it. How to use the platform not only to connect with friends (though very important) but also how to use it for school work as well as creating an online identity they can be proud of and that will serve them well in the future.

Any thoughts? let me know!


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