Managing Social Media with your Kids

At any given time, any of these device and more can be found on our table.

At any given time, any of these device and more can be found on our table.

Internet safety and online bullying are frequently discussed hot topics in school these days. Like many parents, despite the fact that we believe we are quite resourceful, my husband and I often feel a bit overwhelmed and unprepared to help our kids manage their online social lives and stay safe. This would probably be in part due to the fact that we did not grow up with the types of technology used today (or any technology really…unless Pac Man and home phones with a party line count) so it’s not engrained into our brains like it is for our kids. Despite our best efforts, our kids will always be one step ahead of us, even if we use social media in our own lives.

One of the reasons why it is so hard to keep on top of social media is that it is often hard to find the time to keep up with rapidly changing apps. And even when you have the time, you need to have the ability. For example, I just mastered Instagram so I could follow my daughter and see what she and her friends were up to (although I almost lost the “privilege” of following her when I called out a boy in her school for making nasty comments to another child. But I did get a “Sorry Mrs. Charland” from him, and he removed his comments). Now she is asking me if she can download other related applications that will help her keep track of the people who have unfollowed her, among other things. I went from being confidently on top of situation, to losing it with one download.

Another significant reason why keeping up with our kid’s online social lives and use of social media is challenging is the fact that we have little to no influence over the kids they are interacting with. We don’t know if, as parents, we are all on the same page (assuming your kids are interacting with people they know. Strangers are a whole other kettle of fish). Different families have different rules; some kid’s online behaviours may be monitored, other kid’s activities may not and what one parent deems to be a harsh or inappropriate comment, another may shrug off as meaningless. Last year, my daughter ran into trouble with group Hangouts on Google+; a number of classmates got swept up in a group like mentality situation and were being very cruel to a few others. After we talked her through it, my daughter made the decision to stop participating in group chats and to text her friends individually when she wanted to talk with them. Interestingly enough, I mentioned the Google+ issue to a number of other parents. They did not think their kids were not on Google+ so were not concerned. I suggested they check anyway and as it turned out, their kids were using Hangouts too.



What is a parent to do? Aside from the obvious fact that you need to make an effort to learn and understand what your kids are doing online, you need to have house rules in place that you strictly adhere to. Then you need to seek out support or back up for those rules from the the other place where your kids spend the majority of their time – school. Even that may not help though. Our children’s school has made several attempts to educate the students and parent body on internet safety. Last year, all of the students at my children’s school attended a talk given by an expert in the field. In comparison, very few parents turned out for the nighttime version of the talk tailored to them and because of this, there was no common ground established and the message may have been lost between school and home. While my husband did attend and learned a few things he did not know before, the over all take home message he gained was “danger – be afraid and avoid”. My daughter got that same message when she listened to the talk. But being told to be afraid and avoid is not going to deter kids from going online – just like it doesn’t for teaching sex education. I wonder if teaching abstinence ever works?

This school year, we were quite pleased to discover that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board came out with guidelines for computer usage that will hopefully positively impact online behaviours both on and off the school property. These guidelines should make it easier for parents to keep up to date and on the same page with other parents and with all the students. The “Appropriate use of Technology Agreement“, tailored specifically to each age group, was sent home to be discussed and signed by both parents and their kids. For the first time since our kids were in school, I felt we were given an effective tool to manage technology usage. My husband and I had some really interesting and important conversations with our kids about the content of the agreement – conversations that I hope were happening at kitchen tables across the neighbourhood. While this one document is not going to solve all the world’s problems, at least it is a start.

The important message to take away from this is that parents need to be proactive and understand what is going on with their kid’s social lives online, before there is a problem. They need to be informed and talk to their kids about the apps they are using, even if it takes them out of their knowledge comfort zone. Most importantly, they need to teach their kids to be as kind and respectful online as they would teach them to be offline. We are all in this together.


COM0015: Assignment #1, Blog Post #5 – Event Participation


As part of Algonquin College‘s online Social Media Certification program, students are required to publish a number of blog posts. As I approached the end of my studies, I had one last post to publish. I was to locate, attend and write about a professional development and networking event.

I searched long and hard to find a suitable – yet affordable – professional development event delivered in English and that I could attend in person. Unfortunately, things in Europe pretty much shut down over the summer. In time, however, I realized that I already had the perfect professional development and networking event to cover – the Algonquin College Social Media Certificate program itself!

About Tara

My name is Tara MacDonald and I’m a Canadian freelance writer and communications specialist with a background in international development. Learn more…

I’m a big fan of continuing education and professional development. But because I tend to work contract to contract, it’s difficult to plan where I’ll be or for how long. As a result, it’s almost impossible to participate in traditional education or professional development courses.

Why Online Learning?

Algonquin’s online study option provides me with an opportunity to continue developing my skills and qualifications at my own convenience and on my own schedule no matter where I am in the world. All I need is a computer and access to the internet.

Now, it’s true that there’s plenty of free knowledge  you can access on the internet. But the great thing about online courses is that you don’t have to do it alone. You’ve got lesson plans to guide your study, deadlines to motivate you, an instructor to answer questions, a support team in case you’re having trouble with the technology, and other students to talk to, share with, learn from and network with.

Social Media Certificate

Over the past 8 months, I’ve been working towards my Certification in Social Media. The program gives you the tools you need to leverage the power of social media to engage your target audience and achieve your business goals.

The program explores 5 key areas related to social media:

You’ll learn how to evaluate social media channels, develop a social media strategy, monitor and measure results and create effective messaging. In collaboration with other online students, you will also learn how to apply social media to marketing, corporate branding, fundraising and within organizations to support employee engagement, retention and corporate communication.  Read more…

Algonquin’s ‘Blackboard’ | Learning Management System

Once the courses begin, you’ll have access to Algonquin’s interactive Blackboard platform. Blackboard is a Learning Management System where students can interact with their professor and other students in their program. Here you’ll find your lesson content, announcement and discussion boards, assignments and your grades, etc… Read more…


The Algonquin College Social Media Certificate WordPress Account

Throughout the Certificate program, you’ll be using WordPress for a number of assignments and blog posts. There’s no need to worry if you’ve never used WordPress before. You’ll be provided with an invitation to join by email and a number of resources to help you learn how to use the platform. The Social Media Certificate WordPress account is convenient and easy to use. You’ll be able to use your own account to create drafts, upload photos or videos, publish posts, manage comments, and monitor your views and engagement rates.

Are you considering registering for the Social Media Certificate program?

As with anything else, online learning is what you make of it. In my opinion, there are 3 ways to really maximize your learning potential in this program:

#1: Use the lessons as a guide for further exploration of each topic. The classes will give you a good base, but there’s so much more to learn. Use other online resources – such as Mashable and Hubspot – to help you go above and beyond the coursework while staying on top of new features, applications and trends.

#2: To take advantage of the discussion boards and networking forums to network with people in your industry, get to know your fellow students, learn from their experiences and share your own.

As you approach the more advanced courses, you’ll be asked to develop a number of case studies. The great thing about these assignments is that you have the potential to go beyond simple exercises by applying what you’ve learned and gaining practical experience with a non-profit organization. Which brings me to the 3rd piece of advice that I’d pass along to new students entering the program.

#3: I’d start thinking about which organization you’d like to work with early on so that you can start applying your lessons right away while building a solid relationship with your chosen organization. This is a great opportunity to gain practical experience, professional references and build your network while working towards academic credentials.

Online learning is a great opportunity – not just for expats – but for everyone. Algonquin’s online education options give you the experience of being part of a learning community even if you can’t be there in person. They open the door, but it’s up to you to walk through it. So come on, start building your future today.

Want to learn more?

This article was written as a requirement for COM0015: Applied Social Media in Business. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate programme today!

COM0015 – Event Participation


The Event

The professional development event I have chosen to participate in is called EDCAMP. I have chosen this event because my girlfriend is currently studying in Ottawa to become a teacher and I happened to be visiting that weekend. She signed up to go to this event and I decided to tag along so I can do my assignment on this as well. At first I thought to myself why I would do my assignment on an event that is directed towards teachers but after attending such an event I realised the bigger picture. Yes, a lot of current students studying to become teachers and those who were already a teacher attended but the main purpose of this event was focused towards professional development. The fact that it was a teacher event did not matter, it was how individuals in this field can improve, adapt and learn new methods to better themselves as educators. Therefore, the journey does not end after obtaining a position in your desired field. You must continue to learn and educate yourself to acquire the skills and knowledge for both personal development and career advancement. This is a link to their word press:

What I Learned and Contributed

I had interacted with several people during this event because it was not a typical event where you sit down and have someone lecture you throughout the entire day. Conversations were built on ideas that were submitted at the beginning of the event by everyone who attended. Meaning the attendees controlled the discussions based on what they wanted to share or know about a particular subject. Whoever wanted to provide input on the topic did so. This was almost one giant brain storming event to help or educate one another. I did meet one of the organizers of the event who did participate as well. Her name was Erin Painter and she is a teacher in Ottawa. One of the topics she brought up during the event was how effective social media is when integrated with learning. There was moments throughout the day during the breaks where you could continue your conversations with people you have met, so I briefly spoke to her about this topic. I could not agree more with her. I then began giving her my opinion on how introducing social media for purposes other than leisure, at such an early age compared to myself learning about it now, gives these students a one up. It gives them insight on how such tools can be used professionally and possibly help develop their future. She then said that, ultimately that is what they are trying to establish. With the way that our society is moving with technology, our future will soon depend on the usage of these applications and tools. They must take necessary actions to adapt to the given situation. This allows teachers to use them where applicable as an aid to help the students learn. Figuring out different strategies to teach and deliver messages to students increases their learning.

Ideas Gained From Event

Regardless of the profession you choose, there is always room for improvement. The use of technology and social media will be our future. We must all learn to adapt to change and embrace new arising resources. Learning to use such tools for our advantage makes opportunities endless. It is our decision on how far we extend ourselves for career advancement. That being said, is it really enough to only use social media for the ways you already know or have been told? Or is it our responsibility to continue to explore these options further to improve? Exploring these options is what I walked away with from this event. The teachers do this not only to benefit themselves but they do it to incorporate these tools as much as possible in learning as a strategy for students to retain information. This is also done to familiarize the students with these applications and prepare them for their future. Social media applications are given to society for free for the most part, and it requires nothing from us in return. It is an aid that can be used for an endless amount of tasks. Why not continue to explore all different kinds in order to figure out which ones benefit you the most and determine how you can incorporate it with your field to improve your professional development.

Collect a Quote

“Teachers Matter” is a quote that I decided to use from the event that seems the most important and the one message that had the most emphasis. The body language, teaching methods and the way teachers choose to speak plays a vital role in teaching. Therefore, the development of teachers is not just for them. They advance themselves in order to become better educators for the students. The things students learn from teachers is what will ultimately help them in the future with their development. Teaching at an optimal level  puts the students in a better position for their future.

Will I Attend a Similar Event in the Future

EDCAMP is an unconference meaning that events like this are loosely structured. This kind of conference focuses on the participants exchanging information and ideas in an informal manner, rather than following a structured program. I will attend another event like this in the future because this was one of the best experiences I had at an event. I hate being lectured and having a set plan that needs to be followed especially if the information being delivered isn’t interesting. I feel that I am able to retain more information at events like this due to the constant interactions.