I’m so pleased to tell you guys about a new resource to help parents navigate the ever-changing and complicated world of social media.

Our teens continue to live much of their lives online – they spend hours on their phones, gaming devices and sending SnapChats to friends. If we don’t keep up, I’m afraid we will quickly lose touch with what they’re doing. If we can’t teach them the right way to use social media, then there is the potential for them to get themselves into trouble.

I try to stay current with what my daughters are doing online, but I’m #alwayslearning.  Did you know that Instagram users are supposed to be 13 years of age and older? Did you know you can set parental safety controls for younger children watching You Tube? Did you know you can use the “nearby” option to add friends on SnapChat? The list goes on…

A fresh approach to teens and social media

Social media expert Nancy Smith is behind a new website called Social Media Citizenship, which launched two weeks ago. Smith is a professional marketer who teaches social media courses at Mount Royal University and the U of C. She’s also the mother of an 11-year-old son who loves playing online sports games, making Musical.lys and doing Q and A’s on Instagram Live. Nancy has been known to do the Q and A’s with him and even make the odd duet on Musical.ly with her son. She loves social media and believes, when used smartly, social media can be a fun and creative outlet for kids.

She believes there is a “gaping hole” of balanced information out there right now which could help parents guide their kids to use social media responsibly – to be a good digital citizen.

“These digitally native kids are getting thrown onto these social media channels, but no one is teaching them about responsible use. Instead, we’re just saying there’s predators out there, be careful,” says Smith.

Through her blog and her website, she hopes to arm parents with accurate unbiased information so they can make informed decisions about their kids’ social media patterns, content and favorite apps.

“I do know there are problems and I do know there are dangers, I do think if your kid was spending way too much time without having a social network of real life friends and real life social activities, then I would be concerned,” says Smith. “But so far, that’s not what I’m seeing.”

Screenagers documentary set to air in Calgary – win free tickets

Smith is hosting a screening of the highly acclaimed documentary Screenagers on March 22nd here in Calgary at the Cardel Theatre.

I’ve been wanting to see this documentary for a while now. It was directed by Dr. Delaney Ruston – a primary care physician, filmmaker and mother of two. Here’s the trailer:

SCREENAGERS (Official Trailer) from Delaney Ruston on Vimeo.

Ruston was inspired to make the film when her 12-year old daughter Tessa approached her about getting her own smart phone. It explores the teenage brain, consumption patterns, addiction and offers real life advice and strategies. According to Smith, it’s honest and thought-provoking. And, she recommends you bring the whole family, as long as kids are aged 10 and up.

You can buy tickets ($5 each) to the screening here. I am giving away a family pass for four to the screening. You must be a member of the Party of Five Facebook Group to enter – here’s the link.  All you have to do is ask a question in the Facebook group about teens and social media…and Nancy and I will do our best to answer it. Your comment is considered your entry and one person will be randomly chosen for the family pass. Contest closes March 15th.

Grab your tickets guys before they’re all sold out!




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