He shared eye opening videos and statistics from a 2015 Common Sense Census of more than 2,600 8-18 year olds regarding tween and teen media use and a 2016 Common Sense Census of about 1,800 parents titled Plugged in Parents of Teens and Tweens. This helped open up a discussion about strategies for tackling the surrounding issues. Parents asked lots of questions and shared their own personal experiences and tactics for dealing with technology and media use in their homes. Merve stressed that it is always a good idea for parents to have open conversations with their children before jumping to conclusions and simply taking devices away. I was drawn to a quote that he shared from a 2014 Common Sense Focus group, "Adults don't get it. They think I'm addicted to technology - but I'm not. I'm addicted to my friends." Todays kids deal with the same basic issues that we dealt with when we were young, just in a very different way. With the power of social media, teens can now show their popularity by the number of likes that they have on their Instagram or Twitter feeds. Instead of having 100 friends, they can have thousands of followers.
|Media Use by Tweens and Teens Full Infographic|
Merve also shared Common Sense Education resources and gave tips to help parents connect with children on important issues regarding technology and media use. Common Sense understands that it may be difficult for adults to keep up with their children these days. He shared that parents can find descriptions and read parent tips for apps, tv shows, movies, websites and video games on their Reviews page. This is particularly helpful in helping parents decide weather or not to allow their child to watch something or play a game that may be popular among peer groups. Parents can also find a whole section titled Parent Concerns where they can find answers to frequently asked questions.
Before closing out the presentation, Merve talked about a whole community approach to digital citizenship. He emphasized that it is OUR responsibility to reinforce that kids think critically, participate responsibly, and behave safely when engaging with media and technology on a daily basis. As teachers, we have to do our part to educate our students in the classroom, but it is equally important that parents do their part at home and in the community. He even shared with them Common Sense's Connecting Families page and how easy it is to hold parent group discussions using their Series of Conversation Cases that includes event fliers and discussion guides with questions about carefully selected videos that open up great conversations about tough topics like Cyberbullying, Video Games & Violent Content and Sexual Imagery & the Internet.
The two hour presentation flew by and at the end of the event, parents were lining up to speak with Merve and thank him for his knowledge, expertise and advice. One parent came up to me and said, "We need to hold more events like this. All parents should come and see this." After sharing my sketchnotes about the event on Twitter, Merve tweeted, “great turnout today, & parents from room to parking lot praised the event.”