SOL (2016) 8: review of Networked Youth by @mrjtyler
I’ll admit that I have worked with John on a few projects with the @bcpvpa – but it was also a pleasant surprise when he very humbly shared one of his projects: the book Networked Youth (what every parent needs to know about online behaviour). As impressive is him getting social media expert Jesse Miller aka @MediatedReality to write the forward – when Jesse speaks about social media, I listen.
Jesse nicely illustrates the prevalence of social media as part of our world both at home and in school. Not much of a surprise, but a mindshift as the notes previously passed between students or written on walls can have a much wider (and unintended) audience. Many parents of today’s children may have had moments they are glad don’t pop up on their “Facebook memories wall” but that is something today’s learners get to work with – for both good and bad. We have shifted from a world where decisions of what we have access to view and see was chosen for us (by networks and news editors) to a much more media-open landscape.
John takes the approach that I hope all principals will with this topic: that of problem solving and thinking about the topic, not assign of blame (dos and do nots). Instead framing questions around digital citizenship, acknowledging different comfort levels for different user-families…..and acknowledging that it isn’t just a viewing public (like tv) but potentially (okay – realistically, inevitably) involve multiple communications (comments, both positive and negative) that may need specific coping skills (don’t respond to internet trolls!). Being familiar with platforms/apps kids are using is as vital as knowing whose house your child is spending time at.
And just saying “don’t use it” isn’t a long term solution (or really even a short term viable option). It’s far more important to know (and discuss) what, why, and how you are using…..and knowing what to do when mistakes are made (because we will all make mistakes online).
John uses some great story examples to show how easy it is for something small to become enlarged thanks to the online world. A wrong text….a bad tweet (still think that comic sans should be a universal ‘sarcasm font’ adapted to all media apps) can quickly get attention from unintended audiences.
John also poses some great activities to do in order to become better-aware of the online world. This is not a book telling you what/what not to do after all. It’s not going to be enough to read about what to do…..you need to be able to experience it (you can’t just read a cook book to understand how to make a beef Wellington!)
That isn’t to say that John doesn’t include some great ideas to help you identify ways to make your digital footprint a good one (do no harm to others) because he does – page 24. And the reminders are good for all levels of tech users. Awareness is key – burying your head in the sand or assuming that kids will learn it “somewhere/somehow” is not as effective as modelling and sharing good, positive “netiquette”. As Johns wife is quoted to have said: you cannot change the things you refuse to acknowledge.
In summary, this book will be available for parents in my learning community. I will also be using elements of it (especially the activities) as part of my library program (library is part of my teaching component in my K-8 school). A focused read, it can be read in one sitting, but has questions that can take a lot longer to go through, or review and access again and again (especially as children get older). I’m very glad that John wrote this book – it definitely has a positive message about what online behaviour can be as we work to enhance our children’s (and our own) digital footprint with digital dignity.
The book can be found: