Jo Phillips speaks to parents during a social media session held by Mother Teresa School.

Sylvan Lake parents learn how their kids use social media

According to experts from Jo(e) Social Media, adults and children use social media differently

Middle school parents were treated to an informative session about social media and who kids are using it.

The session, held on Oct. 16 in the fine arts room at Ecole Mother Teresa School, was lead by the Jo(e)s, Jo Phillips and Joe Whitbread from Jo(e) Social Media in Lacombe.

The two hope parents will be able to better connect and understand their kids, and not be so afraid of social media.

Phillips says the biggest thing for parents to understand is kids use social media differently than adults.

“The biggest difference is kids use social media to connect with their friends first and foremost. Adult use it because they are bored,” Philip said in an interview before the session began.

The Thursday evening session, with around 100 people in attendance, came after spending the day in the school learning about how the kids at Mother Teresa use social media without judgment.

The two found the students in Grades 4 through 9 are very active on social media, and use multiple platforms to connect with their various friend groups.

Often times, a child will have multiple group chats set up based on their interests this could include a group set of their immediate friends, those on the basketball team and those also interested their hobbies like photography.

“They will even have group messages set up made up entirely of memes,” Philip said.

Whitbread said in many instances parents are “afraid of social media” because of how it is portrayed in traditional media.

When asked who was afraid of the application Snapchat, at least half the parents present raised their hands.

“Traditional media paints it as a bad thing, a scary thing. The pictures disappear after they are viewed, what are they taking pictures of. To be honest its almost always nothing, or something really dumb,” Whitbread said.

“You have raised good kids, so you have to believe they are good.”

Phillips and Whitbread discussed a number of social media platforms children use everyday, from Snapchat to Youtube to Tik Tok.

They said kids today have a better opportunity to discover their passion and connect with other who share that same passion.

“These kids have so much at their thumbs that we never did,” Whitbread said, with Phillips adding social media is giving some kids the chance to be entrepreneurs.

“There is a young man in Grade 9 in Red Deer who makes animated videos on Youtube. He makes about $1,000 every time he uploads.

“…His parents are listed as executive producers on his videos. They support and encourage him through Youtube,” Phillips said.

The purpose of the social media session was to help parents begin a conversation with their kids about social media and how they use it.

Phillips says it is important to know who kids are using, not just that they are.

“You can try banning things like Snapchat, but your kids are still going to be using it. They will use their friend’s device to continue using it,” she said.

“Talk to your kids, find out more about what they are doing. If you want to have a better relationship with your kids, find out what apps they are using and use them to,” said Whitbread, adding this was particularly good advice for dads wanting to connect with their daughters.

Jo(e) Social Media travels across Central Alberta to talk to kids and parents about social media, and how best to start a conversation about it.

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