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Social media education important for Kamloops students

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January 29, 2016 - 6:00 AM

KAMLOOPS - Social media educator Jesse Miller will be coming back to Kamloops to speak to students and parents about how the internet effects the social lives of young people.

Miller, based out of Vancouver, will be talking about the effects and risks facing students using things like Snapchat and Instagram. School District 73, City of Kamloops, Kamloops RCMP and the District Parent Advisory Council are sponsoring the event.

“We have to understand our children become broadcasters,” Miller says. “Our kids do get reflected as a brand. If our kids start branding themselves early, it’s not necessarily a negative but they need to be cognizant of it.”

He says it’s not just risks typically associated with online communication, but a students online voice could effect other elements of there life in the future.

“You have a kid vying for a scholarship, a job opportunity a relationship,” Miller says. “Character becomes a commodity.”

Miller has travelled Canada to discuss the effects of social media, one thing he’s observed is the similarities in how youth use it anywhere they’re from.

“What we’ve done is homogenized aspects of the small community with those of large cities,” he says. “Their social networks expand past geographic boundaries now.”

Miller came to Kamloops a couple of years ago, and assistant superintendent Bill Hamblett says the school decided it was time bring him back to speak to a new group of students.

“He’ll be speaking the Grades 6, 7, 8 and 9,” he says. “If you leave it to Grade 12 that’s probably too late.”

“It’s an opportunity to raise awareness that you’re responsible for what you put online, to discuss digital citizenry,” Hamblett says.

Kamloops RCMP have a local program to teach younger students about online risks with school liaison officer Const. Sophie Winkles.

“They do social media, cyber bullying and sexting,” Cpl. Cheryl Bush says. “Those are the three main ones.”

Bush says when social media first became an issue at schools in Kamloops the education focused on older groups, because that’s who was using it initially.

“Going back a number of years social media was mostly in the high schools but then younger and younger kids were getting cell phones and tablets,” she says “So we decided to do more at the elementary schools.”

Miller’s presentations will be aimed at a slighter older group, discussing responsible use.

He says social media education isn’t just about the negatives associated with the platforms.

Everything has it’s balance; I don’t highlight the negatives, I let the students guide the conversation,” he says. “If you understand the technology, if you understand something going viral, it could be a negative, or it could be a positive if it turns you into a YouTube star making revenue.”

As for the parents, Miller’s presentation will look at a variety of aspects, in particular fear.

"You can scare them as much as you want to but it’s not going away,” he says. “We didn’t take away parks or Halloween when they got scary. We made (the children) resilient.”

The presentation for parents will be happening March 10 at 7 p.m. in the Henry Grube Education Centre.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin at bkergin@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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