#CyberTalk - Parenting in the Digital Age Transcript
AMBER MAC (Tech Specialist, #CyberTalk Moderator): Welcome to the first ever CyberTalk, a nationwide online discussion brought to you by Get Cyber Safe. I'm so excited to be here. This is a conversation for parents so we can talk to parents and give parents some advice in terms of how to keep their kid safe online. I'm the mom of a five year old, so this is a topic that is definitely near and dear to my heart.
A lot to talk about today. Also wanted to thank our friends at Cisco who have given us this great space for us to host this chat, and to ensure that we have great internet access as well.
So we'll be talking about cyberbullying. We also encourage everybody who's watching to join the conversation. If you're on Twitter you can use the Twitter account @GetCyberSafe and you can sent us your questions; we'll answer them during the show. You can also ask any questions or leave us a comment on the Facebook page if you're watching the broadcast from there.
And now is probably the time to introduce our panel, but first I want to let you know who I am. My name is Amber MacArthur and I'm a technology host and have been working in the technology space for the past ten years. As I mentioned, also the mom of a very tech savvy five year old, so excited to be there. And next up I'd like to introduce Alyson.
ALYSON SCHAFER (Parenting Specialist): Hey Amber, thanks for hosting. I'm exciting to be here too. My name's Alyson Schafer. I, too, have two kids, 19 and 20 and they are very tech savvy and I'm proud to say that we were sort of an early adopter family. Outside of the tech world I'm a psycho-therapist, a parenting expert and I think this… the online safety issue and how to help our kids navigate that is a burning issue for parents. I know they ask me all the time, so this is an excellent format. Thanks for inviting me.
AMBER MAC: Well, we are so excited to have you here, Alyson. I know you have a lot to say on this topic and we have a lot of questions we need to get up.
Next up as far as our panel I wanted to introduce Carolyn. Carolyn, thanks for being here.
CAROLYN MAK (Kids Help Phone): Thank you very much for having us. So I'm calling from Kids Help Telephone. We're a national charity and as Amber said, my name's Carolyn Mak. I am the director of knowledge globalization here, which is (inaudible…) part of our (inaudible…) work. So we offer professional counselling for young people five to twenty, and we certainly get a number of young people contacting us online, as well as through telephone, about bullying, cyberbullying so looking forward to the dialogue today.
AMBER MAC: And Kevin, can you give everybody who's watching at home or from their office a little bit of information about who you are, and what you do?
KEVIN CHAN (Facebook Canada): So I'm Kevin Chan. I'm from Facebook Canada and I work on public policy issues here. I'm very happy to be here talking to everybody and I'm also the father of two young children.
AMBER MAC: Excellent, we're happy to have you and we're ever happier that you have audio, so thanks so much. Always tech challenges with this type of thing, but now we're going to get t some of the questions, now that we have all of our panellists here, and are excited that we're able to get into some of these questions.
We're going to start with this first question: Is my child spending too much online? Should I limit the time my child spends online? And I'm going to direct this at you, Alyson, to start.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Yeah, absolutely. So I think we have to think about this in an age-appropriate, developmental kind of a way, and what I mean by that is if you go to the Journal of Pediatrics you're going to tell you that really under the age of two, our kids don't really need screen time at all. There's no benefit. But as they get older, most of what they're going to be doing online is in the form of entertainment and sort of edutainment. A lot of them are learning how to do sequencing with alphabets and letters, and so parents enjoy seeing their kids engage that way.
But as they start to get older they'll start to enter that social sphere, and you know how it is with kids and their social life, they want to be online all the time. So think in the younger years parents need to have more time limits and more structures.
But I'm telling you, as kids get older, and we can attest to this as adults, think about the activities that you do online. It's not all frivolous leisure. I do my banking online; so do my kids. I manage my calendar online; so do my kids. And so I think that those time limits need to realistically get quite wide, and frankly, my kids are off at university, for years I haven't really looked at controlling time as the unit that I use to measure how they're engaging online, because it's a bit of an arbitrary measure. I look more like, is there balance? Have you... do you engage in other ways? Do you maintain your other activities and hobbies? Are you staying social face-to-face and not just virtually?
So I think that's how we have to look at balance, more than just units of minutes and hours.
AMBER MAC: I think that's a really great point, and ah, Kevin, let's switch things over to you, because I think one of the issues a lot of parents have is that they are worried about their kids on social media and what's happening with them on sites out there, like Facebook.
So would you be able to respond to the question of how do you keep kids safe on social media, particularly around the Facebook experience?
ALSYON SCHAFER: Ah, sure. You know, I think I'll pick it up with sort of something that Alyson said. You know, safety is a conversation. So I think the first thing we have to think about is must making sure that parents do spend the time offline having conversations with their children about what is acceptable behaviour, having a conversation about what makes people comfortable, what makes people uncomfortable? I think it really needs to start there.
But beyond that, about the Facebook experience, you know, safety is really our top priority at Facebook and we spend a lot of time and energy making sure that Facebook is an environment that stays safe for everyone.
I know that we'll have an opportunity, Amber, I think, to get into some of the details later on in terms of our questions, so I just want to start with a few sort of high-level things that I think people should bear in mind.
I want to talk about the importance of being our authentic selves on Facebook. So people who use our service probably know that you actually log in and you register as yourself, so you use your real name, and we think that's actually a really big accountability tool, very powerful tool to make sure that people basically are going to be careful about what they say, about what they do. People just tend to be more polite and are more aware of what they do or when they come in and participate as themselves.
For the teens that we're talking about today, between the age of 13 and 17 on Facebook, we actually have a lot of measures built in already to address minors on our service. So, for example, strangers can't contact them randomly. We hide, on their Facebook pages, we hide sort of sensitive contact information. And we do have default privacy settings for people who are from the ages of 13 to 17, so initially when you log in you actually are set to share your posts and you're sharing your photos with your immediate circle of friends, and so we don't sort of default to some broader audience. It stays very much in the smaller category.
And we have a host of other tools, if people see things on their newsfeed, or on their timeline, and it makes them feel uncomfortable, you know, or awkward or nervous or embarrassed about something, we have a whole bunch of reporting tools for them to reach out for help.
AMBER MAC: That's great to know, and a lot of parents, I'm sure, having questions about Facebook and how it works. And also in terms of the issue of cyberbullying, which is becoming more and more common, unfortunately, Carolyn, we'd love to get your opinion in terms of what to do if a child is being cyberbullied. What's the first step you should take?
CAROLYN MAK: Well, I think similar to what Alyson and Kevin have already said. You know, maintaining that dialogue and open conversation with your child is so important. And starting those conversations really early.
So if your child is being cyberbullied, you know, there's a number of strategies that you need to be talking about with them before the cyberbullying has been discovered, or obviously if they are being cyberbullied.
There's a lot of places that people can go to for help. Certainly to work it out between the peers. If that can't be done, certainly also making more formal reports to the child's school. Sometimes, and oftentimes, cyberbullying occurs between people who know one another, so making the school aware is very important. As well, knowing sort of how does the school handle it, for example. You know, who do you go to? Is it the teacher, and/or the vice principal, or the principal, that's important. And as well (inaudible) you really need tom and it escalates to this level it's important to involve the local authorities. So that would be certainly if there's any possible criminal element involving stalking or harassment, threats or possibly even exploitation.
AMBER MAC: Well, thank you so much for that, and I think for this next question, I can probably take this one. This is a tech question as far as staying safe with your technology. So this is one of the questions we've gotten through social media and this one is from Andrea from Calgary who asks, what is the best way to protect my devices, like tablets and phones from viruses, spyware, malware? My children like to play on my iPad and I'm always worried they will click on something malicious. As I think many of the panellists will agree, this is a growing issue, especially with apps and many hackers trying to hack into different social media sites, and apps that you do download.
So I would say the number one thing in terms of your devices is to ensure that you have all of your updates on your device, so all of those security updates that come out on a regular basis. I know it's tempting to not update and you don't want to do it, you don't want to take the time, but it's very important that you do so.
Also when downloading apps, one of the top recommendations that I have for parents out there, is to ensure that the app that you're downloading for your kids is an app that does have great reviews online. There's an excellent site out there, I don't know if some of the panellists have heard of it. It's called Common Sense Media and it reviews different apps out there as far as them being educational and great apps for your kids, so you may want to check out that site.
Do a bit of research. I mean, this is the number one thing, and I don't know how the other panellists feel about this, but I think it's important for parents to start to get even more educated about what's happening right now in the social space online and on the internet as a whole as well.
So Alyson, if we want to go...
ALSYON SCHAFER: I do... I do want to chime in about that too, though...
CAROLYN MAK: Yeah, go ahead.
ALSYON SCHAFER: … you know, because I think a lot of times, again this is where ignorance breeds problems, and you know, parents end up getting a bill, and it turns out their child has downloaded all these apps or started buying all these blings because, well, my little animal is going to die if I don't buy him more kibble, but to buy more kibble I have to make a purchase, and it looks all so innocent up front until the bills come in.
So I don't think those kids are sitting there saying, like, oh I'm going to squirrel away and hide from mom and not tell her this. I think they honestly don't know that this translates into dollars and that these are real dollars. I think the sooner kids get on allowance and the sooner that they learn how to make online purchases, and the sooner that parents sit down side-by-side and show them the procedures, you know, it's all about education.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, so Alyson, maybe this is a good time to go to you with that question that I was just going to ask and this question is about getting educated, but also getting your child to open up online.
So in terms of the question, how can I get my child to open up online, or open up about their online life, what are some of your recommendations in terms of approaching this topic with your kids? How do you go about that?
ALSYON SCHAFER: Yeah, so by and far the number one tool that parents have in terms of safety and their kids, not just online, but offline too, and I know this is going to sound totally cliché, but I just can't say it enough to parents, the power of your relationship with your child is going to be the number one protective feature forever, for all events, pregnancy, drug use, online safety, bullying, the whole nine yards. You need to have a good relationship with your child.
And so for them to want to open up and talk to you they have to be willing to trust that when they come to you and show you the darker side of a behaviour they've done, or a mistake that they've made that you're not going to reject them, that you're not going to fly off the handle, and so that starts with simple things. When they're a kid and they say mommy, you know, I broke the lamp because I was playing with the ball in the living room when I shouldn't have. If you become explosive then your kid is going to say, look if they can't handle broken light fixtures how are they going to handle that I, you know, posted a picture inappropriately, or that I'm being cyberbullied.
So I think we start by proving to our kids that we can handle bad news; that you're accountable for your behaviour, but there's no mistake so great that we can't fix it together. So we show that to our kids day in and day out, not just around online things.
Another thing I would say, Amber, is kids don't necessarily want to talk about themselves...
AMBER MAC: Mm-hmm.
ALSYON SCHAFER: … but if you just have a philosophical conversations -- it could be around something in the news -- something happens in the news you say, hey did you hear of that situation where those kids trashed that coach's house and they posted all the party pictures online, and then when you ask sort of curiosity questions, they start talking about the events, and then you can say, is that the kind of thing that's happening with your friends or in your school? And when you talk about it more as a group environment you're more likely to get more information. And then you can sort of continue those curiosity questions and process it without saying what did "you" do and you're wrong, and that's not how it should go. And you're building up that trust around having an informative conversations.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, definitely great points there, Alyson, and always very logical, so I think it makes a lot of sense for parents to approach that conversation delicately.
Now when it comes to privacy settings on sites out there, particularly social media sites, I know that Facebook has made some major improvements, especially over the past few weeks to make it easier for people to figure out their privacy settings.
Kevin, this is a question for you in terms of children's privacy settings. Can you talk a little bit about how you can... how a parent can help ensure that their child's privacy settings are, in fact, keeping them safe?
KEVIN CHAN: Sure. Well, let me just start by saying people's privacy is very important to Facebook. We spend a lot of time developing some neat tools that I think everybody will agree will always allow them to control what they see and with whom they share. You talked about something that we recently rolled out. That is called the Privacy Checkup, and if you go… I'll get a little bit technical here for a moment, but anybody who's on Facebook right now is watching this, if you go to the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook page you'll see a lock icon, and if you click on that a dropdown menu appears. On the top is this cute purple dinosaur. So if you clock on the dino it actually activates the Privacy Checkup, and it's three easy steps and it's just designed to make sure that whatever privacy settings you're looking for this checkup will allow you to ensure that that's in sync with sort of what your expectations are. It's really easy and we encourage everybody to take the Privacy Checkup and obviously to encourage your teens to do so as well.
Amber, if it's okay I'll just spend a few moments also talking about the privacy settings that we do for teens.
AMBER MAC: Okay.
KEVIN CHAN: So for people who are using our service between the ages of 13 and 17 and so as I said earlier, we have default settings set up, so when your teen is on Facebook the immediate setting they have is when they share a photo or they like something or they post something, the immediate audience for them is friends. And we think that is a good way to start off using our service.
If a teen decides, you know, I'm going to change that setting, so let's say I'll move from friends to friends of friends, that enlarges the audience, and what we will do on our end is make sure that notifications continue to be sent to the individual just to remind them, you know, you've made that change from friends to friends of friends; you now have a much broader audience and we want to make sure you understand that and that you're okay with that.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, definitely great advice as well, so lots of information out there, and again, I mean, I think this all goes back to this idea that parents need to get educated, they need to spend time. I mean, this isn't something where you can spend just a few minutes a month trying to stay on top of where kids are going on social media, and what apps they're using. It takes a lot of energy. I think of my own son, who I mentioned is five years old, he's playing Minecraft on a regular basis. One of the first things I did when he started playing Minecraft was to go to the Minecraft Wiki, this amazing free site, that gives you all the information that you could ever need about Minecraft and I started getting in there, and I started playing with him, and I think this really speaks to the point that, you know, you can start teaching your kids at a very young age about how to stay safe online and you can start doing some of these activities with them as well.
So five year olds, you know, they're pretty savvy. I think I read a stat recently that the average… or the age when the average person starts using an iPhone or touches an iPhone for the first time is one year old, so a little disturbing. Nonetheless. Okay, so...
ALSYON SCHAFER: Amber, if I can add to that.
AMBER MAC: Yeah.
ALSYON SCHAFER: I completely agree with you that I think part of what overwhelms parents is that because there is the time commitment there and they think when am I going to do this, how am I going to get educated -- you don't have to be alone in that. That is totally a joint activity. You say to your kids, let's sit down together and figure this out. Let's sit down together and find out what it says about this, and that's actually shared bonding time. That's actually, believe it or not, quality time. Kids want to know that their parents are interested in their life and have those shared hobbies and interests with them, and saying, we're going to get tech savvy together is sort of like saying let's take painting lessons together, go horseback riding together. Turn it into something that's a shared activity so it doesn't feel like it's a time suck for mom and dad.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, and so it doesn't feel like you're putting them in a corner with a device and saying hey, go off and discover this whole world on your own, and good luck with that.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Right.
AMBER MAC: I mean, we should be acting, I think, in many ways as guides to this new frontier and be educating them and showing the places they should go and how they should behave and proper etiquette. Just like parents always have in past history.
Kevin, I think you were going to jump in there, so...
KEVIN CHAN: Well, I was just going to say, I mean, the other thing, it's probably one of the few aspects of your daily life where your kid may actually have a whole bunch of stuff to show you and to teach you about and that might actually be very interesting for the parenting relationship. It's not just saying well, you know, let me show you how things are done, you have an opportunity here to invert the relationship a little bit, and that actually, I think, kids really find that kind of cool.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. Carolyn, we're going to come to you in one second with a question, but I just wanted to mention to people who are watching right now, who are watching live, that you can still submit your questions. You can use the #CyberTalk; you can leave us a comment on Facebook, or of course ask on Twitter. We're happy everybody's enjoying this conversation and hopefully learning a lot.
So Carolyn, the question that I have for you, which came in through social media is, what time is... what age is the right age to give a child a cell phone? And I think all of our panellists may have an opinion on this on.
CAROLYN MAK: Absolutely, then I'm happy to kick it off. You know, it's... I don't want to take the easy answer out, but I do think that it really depends family-to-family. Every family has a different way of sort of using social media, of using technology to communicate. As Alyson was saying, you know, a lot of it is real sort of convenience now. Cell phones and smartphones can be used as a way to not just communicate with one another, but to kind of monitor and keep your child safe. You know, you want to know where they are, and you can contact them at a touch of a button.
So I think that, you know, I don't know that I really have a specific age in mind, but I'm sure Alyson and Kevin might have something to say about (inaudible…) as well.
AMBER MAC: Great, a great answer. Does anyone have any sense on the right age? I mean, I think it is kind of a tough question and for every parent it is going to be different, but Alyson, I feel like you have something to say?
ALSYON SCHAFER: (Laughs.) Well, you know, it's interesting. I think it's hard to give an age number when what we're really talking about is the level of maturity and responsibility that the child has, and nobody can judge that better than the parent. And so you really need to decide is your child showing you that they're responsible. And for some kids, for example, for many parents the number one concern is that they're very expensive. If you can't even bring your lunch box home, if you lose a pair of mittens every day, you think I'm going to give you a multi-hundred-dollar phone. They're too afraid they're going to leave it at the park.
And so I think just saying listen, I'm very interesting in you getting a cell phone, I can see you're really eager about that. Let's see if we can show a little responsibility about some of our other belongings before we increase the value of the belongings. And that's, even before talking about the whole usability and whether or not the phone is camera-enabled, internet-enabled, whether there's a GPS system, because as you aptly pointed out earlier, Amber, it's not just a phone, it's a little mini-computer. It does a lot more than just make phone calls.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, I mean, you're exactly right. These little phones are like little computers and I think we need to treat them that way. I mean, there was a time when you talked to parents about how to stay safe when there was technology in the home, they would say, okay, put your desktop computer in the living room where the whole family can crowd around you and you can see what they're doing. But what do you do then when you have a kid who has a tiny little computer-slash-phone who can take it up to their room and be doing who knows what.
Another question, and this one is for you, Kevin, and this is a Facebook question. My child is ten years old, is it okay to have a Facebook account and if not, why is that?
KEVIN CHAN: Well, the answer is very clear, the answer is no, it's not okay. We have a very strict age policy at Facebook, and so anybody who's under the age of 13 is not allowed to use our service, and I should just add, you know, if we discover that there is actually somebody using our service who is under the age of 13, we will move very quickly to deactivate the account.
AMBER MAC: Okay, great answer. A very clear answer as well. I know a lot of young kids, they definitely want to start using Facebook and other services, but we should mention there are policies I place; that you should read those policies and figure out how hold you should be to use some of these different social media services out there.
Carolyn, a question for you: What do I do if my child has posted an intimate image on line, something that they will probably regret later in life, or will cause them some problems as far as cyberbullying?
CAROLYN MAK: This is a great question and I think it's something that's so foremost, that so many people (inaudible…), but we know that young people do engage in sharing and creating intimate images. I think something Alyson said earlier really resonates, when she said, you have to have a tempered response to when somebody has shared an intimate image. And I think something to keep in mind is that, I'll ask you this too, you know, and so I think one of the immediate responses was they should never do it, and I'm not saying… condoning it or condemning it either, but I think that we need to accept that this is part of... sometimes how teens communicate.
So one of the resources that is available, that I think is very useful, is Cybertip.ca. That's all one word, Cybertip. They're part of NeedHelpNow and they have a reporting system, but as well, even more importantly, they have a lot of information for young people, as well as parents, around internet safety. They've got a series of pamphlets, parenting, how to talk about difficult conversations around internet images, about healthy relationships. And I think the other thing that I would really caution parents is to better understand why your teen might have done this. It could be their self-expression, in which case you'll have to have a good conversation about that, and an ongoing conversation, but I think we also know from a lot of tragic incidents that have been in the news, that it could also be a case of exploitation, in which case it's really important for parents and others to know what could look like and really make sure again you're having those conversations early and often to keep your child safe.
AMBER MAC: Great answer. I should also mention that there are some popular services and apps out there, that are making it, unfortunately, even easier for kids to share images like this on line, or to post anonymously. A couple of trends that parents should definitely know about -- one of those trends is disappearing social media. You have services out there like Snapchat, where they can share text, video and images that will disappear in less than ten seconds, and I say that in quotes, because we all know how easy it is to... for those images and videos to resurface.
I also wanted to mention a couple of apps that allow kids to remain anonymous online, Secret and Whisper. A lot of teenagers using these apps so they can post anonymously. Parents should be aware of some of these apps because there is more and more cyberbullying happening because of some of these tools that exist. You know, kids tend to move on from one service to another very quickly; a lot faster than we adults.
And actually, Alyson I'll move to you on that topic, because we were talking about this recently and you had mentioned that kids do move on at a certain point, especially when we adults come into the equation.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Right. So you know, for kids in the old days if you wanted to hang out with your pals and not have your parents around, you know, you kind of went to the mall or you hung out in the basement for a sleepover and you giggled and you had no adult supervision.
So what ends up happening now is they all meet online and so as soon as a site becomes popular, all the kids go there, the parents hear about it and then the parents jump on board and the kids try to find the next place to go where there aren't parents.
So in a sense we have to kind of stay one step ahead, or follow where the pack is going because we do need to have those adult eyes there.
AMBER MAC: Yeah...
ALSYON SCHAFER: Eyes, ears.
AMBER MAC: No, I think that is a really good point. And Kevin, did you want to jump into this conversation? In terms of some of the trends that are happening online and how parents should stay on top of them?
KEVIN CHAN: Well, no, I was just going to say, I was going to go back to your previous question, just in terms of like well, you know, what if I sort of posted something online and I thought about it afterwards, and I thought, oh, you know, I really shouldn't have done that, I'd like to take it off. I just wanted to say, you know, for folks who are on Facebook or who are using it and they want to know what they can do on our service, there is a button called the Activity Log, so if you go to your timeline... go to near the top of it you'll see there's a button. It's actually called Activity Log. If you click through that it takes you to a scream and it actually has an itemization of everything you've done on Facebook. So what you've liked, what you've shared, what comments you've posted and then you can play with it and you can actually take it off your timeline, you can delete it, you can change the audience setting. We think that's a really powerful tool and we encourage everyone to review it regularly, just to make sure that you know exactly sort of what you've done and that you haven't inadvertently done something.
AMBER MAC: All right, Kevin, very useful and just wanted to mention one more time, if you want to join the conversation please talk to us on Twitter using the handle @GetCyberSafe and great conversation here.
We had a comment just come in from Twitter, in fact, who was mentioning a site. This person is Sarah, who mentions, Ask.fm. I think that was in reference to my conversation around some of the top trends that are happening right now in terms of people posting anonymously through different apps and disappearing social media. Ask.fm, of course, being a site where people could ask questions anonymously and a lot of teens are gravitating towards that service, and there are some questionable activity there as well.
Carolyn, we have a question for you and this is, and I think Alyson may want to pipe in on this one too, but how should parents start a conversation with their child about viewing questionable content online?
Do you have any advice for that question?
CAROLYN MAK: Well, I think that similar to what I mentioned earlier, it's really important to talk and understand people's motivations. Is it curiosity? Is it, you know, more than that? Why would people want to sort of examine some of that stuff. I think probably Alyson is a better person to speak to sort of what that conversation might sound like. And I think when we're trying to understand what are kids thinking, you know, you really need to explore that with them, rather than make them defensive.
AMBER MAC: Great. Alyson, do you want to jump in here?
ALSYON SCHAFER: I agree. I think for all the great work that we might do as parents to try to protect our kids from exposure to content that we have to understand that if they're online they're going to stumble into something. They're going to mistype Britney Spears and they're going to end up on a porn site, and even if they're only there for a second, you can have traumatization of young kids to some of these images, even with all our blockers and everything.
So, again, I think talking before an event happens is helpful and if they do see information or pictures or something that scares them, freaks them out, you know, they have been traumatized in a sense, and depending on the level of that trauma, parents can either handle it themselves or if it's in the case of, for example, somebody posting something of them that's humiliating, you know, it may need that the family needs to call in a professional counsellor. I just want people to understand how absolutely traumatic some of these things can be for kids. And we wouldn't expect a parent to be a trained counsellor. There are steps that we go through in therapy to work around trauma, to help kids get past this.
But the idea of talking about these things, certainly in the sexual content, you know, they need, most importantly, to know that what's represented online is not a representation of healthy sexual activity.
There's a great website called Make Love Not Porn that tries to address that because a lot of guys think this is… when you date, that this is what girls are going to want. That is no place to get your sexual education. Let me tell you that.
AMBER MAC: That is also very good advice. Thank you for that, Alyson.
Because we have been asking people to join the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook, wanted to share a couple more comments. This one is from Grendel, who says the internet, if there's a way for teenagers to misuse it they will find it and mentions that their son is just 14 years old. Also Jane says, talk to your kids, withhold judgement, listen, don't accuse, freak out and be paranoid #helicopter. So I think also some really great advice here.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Sorry Amber, I just want to say...
AMBER MAC: Yes.
ALSYON SCHAFER: … you know, most kids actually their biggest fear is that when their parents hear something that they're going to take away their computer. That's their biggest fear, so I think we can just, right up front, explain that to kids, that yes, you have to show responsibility to use something appropriately, the same way that you need to go the speed limit and follow the rules of the road if you're going to have a driver's license. But we do need to speak to them that that's not going to be our kneejerk reaction or for sure they're not going to come to us with their issues.
AMBER MAC: Yeah, I think that's a really great point. I'm curious if anyone on the panel has any advice as far as where parents can go to get more information about keeping kids safe, and themselves safe, online. If there are resources that you can recommend, sites they can use. Anyone want to jump in and answer this?
KEVIN CHAN: Sure, why don't I just start. I mean, we spend a lot of time, as I said, as we're pulling together a lot of tools, and we're really proud of what we have. If you go to Facebook.com/safety, parents who want to do that who are on Facebook right now, this will take you to the Family Safety Centre, and so we've really have a portal kind of to provide all the various tools that we think, not just parents, but educators and teens themselves, all sorts of tips and guidance documents that can be found there, that'll help them have a safe online experience
Carolyn, I don't know if you want to talk a little bit about the guidance document that we released together last week, Help a Friend in Need.
CAROLYN MAK: Absolutely. So this was in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th. We created a document together that Kids Help Phone and Facebook collaborated on to talk about how to help a friend who might be in need. So you don't necessarily obviously have to be expressing suicidal thoughts to reach out to a friend. It's important to look for the signs and symptoms, if somebody is suffering or this teen's involved in online activities. I would also expect that perhaps you might consider going to the Kids Help Phone website. We have some internet safety topics, as well as the (inaudible) and tools for young people to use. We always try and make sure that we have tools that are actually developmentally appropriate, so sort of age-appropriate and fun for kids to explore, and we've got definitely some good tools that I already referred to on our site as well.
AMBER MAC: Great, this is excellent. I also wanted to mention, of course, that people can go to GetCyberSafe.ca, so that's another resource where people can go, including parents, to get information about how to stay safe online. If you're looking for trends in terms of what's next and where your kids may be hanging out on line, and what you should know about, one of the sites that I go to on a regular basis is Mashable.com. They tend to always be on the leading edge of what's next on the internet and it's worth spending some time there, if you do want to educate yourself.
I mean, I think as a parent I just, again, go back to this idea that it's empowering when you start to know this information and you can sit down and have those conversations versus just raising your hands and saying, hey, you know, I don't know what you're doing; kids these days. I mean, I think that would be the last thing that you want to say. You want to be able to be empowered, to help your child and, again, that does mean investing some time in that process.
Alyson, I see you nodding your head, so if you wouldn't mind adding on to that.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Oh, I agree. I think at this point, given that where we are, this is the reality of current life, and I think you would actually be a negligent parent if you didn't engage in some education yourself, or if you're just being absolutistic and said, that's it you're not going online, you're really not preparing your kids for the future world in which they have to function as an adult. They won't even be able to download a homework assignment.
I think just saying you're not going online, you're not going to participate in the digital world, it's just not going to work.
So this is really work we have to do. Just the same way we have to teach our kids how to eat right and have proper hygiene, it's just a new world, it's just a new thing on the parenting list now.
AMBER MAC: Great, so you know what I'm going to do before we play a video to end the conversation, although I'm still checking the social media sites, so encouraging everybody, if you have comments please do let us know. You can visit us at GetCyberSafe on Twitter and leave us a comment on Facebook as well.
Some closing thoughts from the panellists as far as advice going forward. You know, if you could think of a few things you could say to parents who are watching this video, whether they're watching it live or the version that we'll upload that will be online forever, what do you have to say to them about how to keep their kids safe online? Your top recommendations. Who wants to go first?
CAROLYN MAK: I will, if that's okay?
AMBER MAC: Yeah, that's good.
CAROLYN MAK: I would encourage parents to stay really hopeful. I think there's sometimes, really like you said, Amber, you throw your arms up and say what is going on and sort of, you know, it feels like a loss of control. But I think parents need to stay hopeful and know that they can and will become educated about what their kids are doing.
I would also say from the Kids Help Phone perspective, that it's really important to strategize with your child about what to do if and when they ever run into trouble online. So actually saying ongoingly, it's important to have those conversations ongoingly, but as well, think about specific things you can talk about. So, for example, who's your favourite teacher? Who do you know and how can you tell when you can trust someone? What does trust really mean? How do you know when someone's trustworthy? So that could be around who you want to communicate with online. What are the policies at school?
So I think that knowing who to go to is important, and maybe Kids Help Phone could be one of those places. Our service is completely anonymous and confidential and young people tell us that part of the reason they contact us is because they can practice what they want to say to their parents. Our counsellors often encourage young people to go back to their parents and talk this through with them.
AMBER MAC: Excellent. And Carolyn, if you would just mention one more time how people can get in touch with Kids Help Phone if there is cyberbullying going on and how they can reach out to your organization.
CAROLYN MAK: Absolutely. So we're open 24/7, 365 and our phone number is 1-800-668-6868. There's more than likely wallet cards or posters in your child's school, but as well we're easily found online at KidsHelpPhone.ca. We have a web posting service where our counsellors can respond to sort of what is basically an email from a young person, although again, it is entirely anonymous, as well a life chat service running Thursday through Sundays.
AMBER MAC: Great, thank you so much, Carolyn. And Kevin, some closing thoughts from you.
KEVIN CHAN: Yeah, I think I'll restrict my comments just to Facebook, just so that people who are using the service have some tools on hand for themselves and for their teens. You know, again, if you see images, videos, messages that are troubling to you, they're embarrassing, you find them awkward, we have a lot of tools that allow you to report those things and to try to engage with them in a constructive manner. So, again, if you go to yours newsfeed or on your timeline on the upper right hand corner of each post that you get there is kind of this upside-down arrow. If you click on that a drop-down menu appears again, and there are various things that you can do. You can say well, I don't want to see this, and you click on that button and that'll remove the item from your timeline. But it also allows you to an opportunity to write back to the person who posted the message, and just explain a little bit, well, this is sort of why I feel the way I do, and depending on your reason for doing that, Facebook will actually give you some suggested language that you can use to get you started to send something back.
You can also report these things to somebody else in your network, so if you see something that's a little bit awkward you can report to somebody who's a trusted friend on your network. It could be a parent, it could be another adult. And then finally, if you have sort of trouble with an individual who is sending things on a repetitive basis, that are sort of perceived as being harassing or bullying, you can just block the person. And by blocking that person that ends all interactions with them on Facebook. You won't see them, they won't see you and that'll be the end of it.
AMBER MAC: Great. Very helpful. And Alyson, just before we go to you, I also wanted to mention one last closing thought, although we're going to stick here while we play a video at the end of this conversation, I also think it's important for parents to be creative. I tell this story a lot about a woman I met many years ago who was saying that her teens didn't want to be friends with her on Facebook. They absolutely didn't want to have anything to do with their mom on Facebook. So what she did is she decided to start an account on Facebook as the family dog, a page for the family dog, like a fan page. It turned out that all the teens in the neighbourhood loved this dog -- and the dog's name was Marley -- so much that they all became fans of Marley's page and they all interacted and had conversations there. So all of a sudden she was like this centre point in the community for the kids to have a conversation. Now one knew that she was running Marley's fan page, but she had access to their conversations and I thought it was very clever. So sometimes we have to take that extra time to think about some solutions that perhaps aren't that obvious at the get-go.
So Alyson, we'll go to you for some final thoughts.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Yeah, I love it. Well, I think parents have to remember that children really do care about our opinion of them, and children will move in line with our expectation. And so if we go in with the attitude that online behaviour is shifty and that everyone's a bully and that your child is behaving badly, well, kids are going to think, you know what, you already think I'm terrible online anyways, I might as well go ahead. You already think I'm guilty.
If instead we say, listen, I actually think that you're an awesome human being and I think you really do know how to conduct yourself, but it's my job as a parent to make sure that you're safe, so the way that I'm going to make sure that I do my job is to agree that if you're old enough to have a Facebook page now that you're 13 and you sign up, that I'm also able to check your activity log and that you... it's a condition of having your own site.
But you do it in that order, rather than just grabbing a phone and reading your text messages or grabbing their activity... your kids are going to think that you're stalking them and that you're being unfair.
So you're explaining upfront your... the behaviours that are expected of you, which we start with a high expectation and then our behavioural expectations is doing our good parenting job. And when we all just follow through with what we say we're going to do and what the accountability if things don't happen then we don't get into the interpersonal problems when we have to be a disciplinarian.
AMBER MAC: I wanted to thank all of our panellists. Thank you so much, Alyson, Carolyn and Kevin, a great conversation, an important conversation and something that we should be doing more regularly. So hopefully we get a chance to chat again, do this again, and it was really great talking to everyone.
Also wanted to mention, of course, that people can go to GetCyberSafe.ca and continue the conversation and also continue your comments on Twitter and on Facebook.
Thank you so much for watching, and to all our panellists we'll just let you wave goodbye. There, we'll go start with Alyson. See you later, Alyson.
ALSYON SCHAFER: Bye.
AMBER MAC: Carolyn, thank you so much.
CAROLYN MAK: Thank you very much.
AMBER MAC: And Kevin, thank you so much.
KEVIN CHAN: Thank you. Thanks, everyone.
AMBER MAC: All right, thanks so much.
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