NEWS — Parents who worry about what their kids are texting and posting on Facebook might have to look in the mirror for the answer, a social media expert told a mostly adult audience of close to 500 tonight (Monday).
Jesse Miller of Mediated Reality in Vancouver was invited by RCMP and School District 73 to talk about the risks of social media after they revealed last week they were undertaking “a complex investigation involving a number of youth throughout the community.”
Miller spoke for an hour and a half before taking questions from the crowd, which packed into the South Kamloops secondary school gymnasium bleachers and the basketball court to listen.
He compared modern technology of cellphones and tablets to what many parents in the room remembered growing up — dial phones and rabbit-ear TV sets. Today’s kids have their choice of gadgets and apps and the technology is constantly changing.
“They don’t need another product; they want another product,” he said. “The reality is there will always be another platform.” He said parents should ask themselves, “What would I do with this if I was 16 years old again?”
The difference between old technology and modern technology is that there’s no such thing as privacy any more, said Miller. “That’s not a statement, that’s a fact.”
In a texting exercise, he had the audience use their smartphones to text answers to questions, with percentages coming up live on the Powerpoint screen. In answer to a question about whether they have ever used social media in the workplace when they knew they weren’t supposed to, 90 per cent confessed they had.
Almost 70 per cent said they’d shared life experiences on social media.
“Where do kids learn to break the rules?” Miller asked rhetorically. “Sometimes it comes from what they see.”
He said combined with the fact their smart phones do pretty much everything, “Why are we surprised when our kids cross the line?”
Young people have a great deal of trust in their peers, and an undeveloped sense of propriety, said Miller. “Our kids think everything they have has to go on the Internet.”
Miller showed several examples of risky behaviour, including sending pictures of car speedometers taken at high speeds, and sending photos of new driver’s licences. He told a story about one teenager who took a nude picture of herself for her boyfriend but sent it to her father by mistake.
The obvious answer to the problem is to become aware of what your kids are doing and to set an example, he said, but acknowledged it’s not easy. And, he added, don’t fear the Internet.
“It is very much the sweet and sour of real life.”