While negotiating the lunch hour traffic yesterday, I caught a piece of a conversation on the radio and thought, “That person has read Danah Boyd’s book”. As the conversation went on, I realized the speaker was Danah Boyd, and that she was a guest on the Ontario Today call-in program on CBC Radio.
The program was about parents spying on and creeping their teens, but it turned into a conversation about much more. Danah Boyd is such a fluent speaker on the topic of networked teens that she can turn any question into a learning moment.
Her key messages are important take-aways for parents and teachers of teens.
It takes a community to raise a child. At one time we did that openly, in public spaces, but now much social activity has moved into online spaces. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look out for kids in the same way.
Surveillance is observation without intervention.
When parents and other adults discover inappropriate online activity, they need to take time to consider whether an intervention is necessary, and what the intervention should be.
Behaviour on social media is reflective of other realities in teen’s lives. Ask why kids are behaving that way. What is going on in their lives that is making them seek attention inappropriately? What supports are needed?
Let’s ensure that our adult reactions to teen online behaviour are not based on our own lack of understanding, or our unfounded fears of online spaces.
Our interventions should enhance the abilities of young people to make good decisions, not take the decision-making process away from them.
The full Ontario Today podcast is available here: http://www.cbc.ca/ontariotoday/2014/05/29/when-keeping-an-eye-on-the-kids-becomes-spying/ or through itunes.
Danah Boyd’s book is available for free download here.