Wake Schools equip parents with social media training

Posted November 20, 2018 9:27 a.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2018 9:41 a.m. EST

— Many families have experienced a crisis instigated by the online activity of their children. It may come in the form of cyber-bullying or even when personal information or pictures are used by strangers.

Yoley Staley is well aware of the risks for her teenage son when he frequents social media sites, warning him, "If you don't know this person and you're accepting their 'friend request', now you've just given them an open door to your life."

Staley took advantage of a new social media training program offered in the Wake County Public School system.

"We want to provide them not just with knowledge, but with resources that they can use to help steer their children in the right direction," said Crystal Reardon with Wake County Schools' Counseling and Student Support Services.

With the system's technology services, Reardon and Allison Reid said he internet can be a valuable tool to enhance student achievement. The potential pitfalls require parents to help their child make good choices, and that's especially true when students are on social media sites.

"Children have been taught 'don't talk to strangers' for decades," said Reid. "Well, so what does that look like online? And 'be kind when you speak to other people,' but how does that manifest in an online world and social media platform?"

Reid says students need to develop certain skills while on social media, like recognizing and controlling their emotions.

Valerie Kadera, another parent attending a training session, says she is careful to look for these issues with her teenage son.

"We sit down and talk everything out," she said.

The program follows the precepts of "The Social Institute" founded by social media expert Laura Tierney at Duke University. The program challenges parents to help their children resist harmful social pressures online as well as advising them on where to turn for help when they have trouble.

Kadera says fine tuning those skills are not limited to the school years.

"It is a complete work in-progress," she said. "I don't care if you're 40 or 50, you always have to work on these things."