Middle: Social Media
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Raising Savvy Digital Citizens
January 2022 ~ Happy New Year!

Responsible digital citizenship means taking part in online community life safely, ethically and respectfully. Tweens and teens with cell phones and social media, online education, gaming or other accounts like it or not, are digital citizens.

Teaching youth about digital citizenship requires community effort. The impact will be more powerful when they are hearing the same messages at home and at school and they know they have multiple trusted adults they can can got to for support and guidance.
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The Positives of Being a Digital Citizen
Children and teens are mostly social and collaborative when they are online. For example, games like Minecraft allow children to work with others to build new worlds. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok help teenagers keep up with local and long-distance friendships, share experiences and support peers.
As digital citizens, teenagers express themselves by sharing and posting comments, images and videos. They can explore who they are and take action on issues they care about by starting or signing online petitions, joining or creating online communities and interest groups.
Sometimes the anonymity of the internet can be a bonus – for example, if teenagers want to explore aspects of their identity, or want help with issues they’re worried or embarrassed about.

Finally, the internet gives teenagers good access to news and health information, and many turn to the internet first to understand themselves and the world.

One of the pitfalls of social media is cyberbullying. This is an extreme form of bullying among youth through technology. It is abusive, targeted, deliberate and repeated behaviour intended to harm another person. Sometimes non-consensual inappropriate images and videos are created and distributed as a form of bullying.
Have a discussion with your child about the following:

Assume everything you post (pictures included) is public. In the wrong hands, what you share (private information) can be used against you – it is easy to lose control of information.

Protect your passwords, make them hard to guess, change them often and avoid sharing them.

Question what you see online, people can easily lie about anything, their age, gender, interests, personality etc.
Tell an adult if you encounter anything online that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Remember anyone can capture and save images when using camera-enabled devices.

Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say in real life.

Make a habit of checking your privacy settings in social media apps regularly.
If you get mean messages from someone online:

Don’t answer them. It is hard not to respond because you want to defend yourself. But this could make things worse.

Save it so you can show an adult what was sent to you.

Talk to a trusted adult who can support you and help stop what is going on.

 Block and remove the person from your contacts on social networking sites.

If mean messages are sent to you again, keep telling your safe adult who can help you navigate the solution.
 If someone you know is being mean to someone else online:

Stay out of it. Do not join in with friends who are sending mean messages to other people.

Stop it. If you receive a mean message about someone else, don’t share it with other people.

Talk to a trusted adult. If you know someone who is being picked on by other kids, talk to an adult about it. Everyone deserves to be safe and treated with respect.
Online Luring
Online luring commonly refers to the process through which someone communicates with a child online for a sexual purpose. The Criminal Code (Canada) defines a luring offence as someone using  telecommunications (e.g., chat, messaging, texting) to communicate with someone they believe to be under the age of 18 in order to commit a designated offence against that child.
Explain to your child that adults should not try to become friends with or give sexual attention to children and youth. If this occurs, they should tell a safe adult.

Discuss how confiding and sharing personal issues or situations online with the wrong person could leave someone open to manipulation and mistreatment.

Teach your child how to get out of conversations when they feel uncomfortable.

Remind your child they can always talk to you if they need your help, at any point in a difficult situation, without worrying about getting into trouble.

Sexually Explicit Content
Youth can be exposed to sexually explicit material, such as adult pornography, simply by typing an incorrect web address into a web browser or clicking on an inappropriate search result and unexpectedly finding themselves on a site they did not intend to. At this age, they start to become more curious and interested in sexuality. In seeking out information on the Internet, they can be exposed to graphic and potentially harmful material that can influence their development of attitudes and beliefs about sexual relationships.
To help reduce the chance of your tween accessing pornography:

Be involved in what your tween is doing.
Set up parental controls, use filtering software and set limits on your tween’s use of devices.*

Reinforce the expectation you’ll monitor their online activities.

Have regular conversations with your tween about healthy relationships and how to build closer relationships with someone.
If you notice your child is in distress and you suspect it‘s from viewing sexually explicit material:

Check search histories on the devices your tween uses and talk to them about it.

Let your tween know pornography online is graphic and it involves actors. It isn‘t a real sexual,  intimate relationship.
Let them know that what they are feeling can often happen to kids their age when they have stumbled upon sexually explicit material online. Explain it is not realistic or healthy for them to be viewing. 

Increase supervision and monitoring of website access.
January School Poster
A report released in 2021 stated that feelings of loneliness among teenagers around the world rose sharply between 2012 and 2018.

The researchers attributed the loneliness to cell phone use. Teens spent more time using digital media which does not offer as much emotional closeness as in-person interaction. 

Focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections is important. The best teen friendships allow teenagers to speak honestly and openly without fear of being judged. This kind of authentic connection will support them during adolescence and beyond.

This poster reminds students that the real version of themselves and their friends is much more interesting and engaging than their online persona.
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Middle Snapshots for 2021
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Sources and Resources
Parenting in the Screen Age is packed with evidence-based insights on screen time from researchers, input from kids and teens, and solutions drawn from the author's own messy parenting struggles, this guide shows you how to start - and sustain - productive family talks about technology.

In the book you'll learn how to:

Bring up screen time without making your child or teen defensive

Talk through difficult issues like online social cruelty, sexting and mental health

Engage your child in creating boundaries around Netflix, gaming and social media

Have screen time limits that actually work - with less of the sneaking or arguing

Read Previous Snapshots Here!
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