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Talk to give parents advice in the digital age

June 5 presentation will offer guidelines, tips and understanding



With society heading in a direction where people are constantly connected, many parents are grappling with how to teach their kids to be responsible in their digital lives.

But an upcoming presentation, Raising Digitally Responsible Youth, hopes to help guide caregivers through the maze.

Hosted by Nick Chernoff, a social media awareness specialist with Safer Schools Together, the presentation will give parents guidance when it comes to understanding modern technology.

Learning digital responsibility starts in the home, explained Chernoff.

"As adults that didn't grow up with this technology, we can't stand back and say 'well, we didn't grow up in it. I have no interest in it,'" he explained.

Parents and caregivers, rather, need to "set parameters," and learn about the newest applications along with their kids.

"As a parent, as an educator to your children, you have to be involved and learn the positives and the negatives, because there's definitely a lot of both," said Chernoff.

Modern technology is addictive, with some kids spending upwards of seven hours a day using devices, said Chernoff. "And we're dealing with kids younger and younger having these devices."

Moreover, many parents simply aren't teaching their kids how to play games and use applications like Instagram and Snapchat in moderation.

"It's not necessarily the game that's concerning. It's the amount of hours we're allowing kids to spend on these devices without proper guidance," he said.

Parents need to break free of the desire to "be cool" when it comes to technology. In other words, it's about parents "not trying to be their kids' best friend," said Chernoff.

"(You want to) be their best parent," he said. "We know what's best for them, and we need to know when to tell them to put these technologies down."

With powerful computers at your fingertips, it's easy to pay attention to your phone and not be tuned into the wider world around you.

Chernoff believes parents should promote "device-free times" when families get together, dock their phones (well away from where they are hanging out), and enjoy each other's company—old-school style.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, he acknowledges that the volume of information in his presentations can be overwhelming.

That, however, is not a bad thing.

"I want (parents to be) educated," he said. "This hour-and-a-half to two-hour talk is just a spark, so they can learn more ... We can keep kids safe in this digital era."

A substantial portion of the presentation is focused on equipping parents to talk to their kids about social media and the internet.

"It can be kind of a foreign language to (parents)," said Chernoff. "It's about having that conversation with your children and having them teach you. Why not have your children teach you some things as well within technology? A lot of these parents lack the confidence to start that conversation."

The presentation will be held Tuesday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Whistler Secondary School. Parents are asked to RSVP to Denise Morfini: dmorfini@sd