“The goal of my case study was to provide information to Christ the Redeemer School Division that can assist in helping parents and children use social media in a way that allows them to benefit from the positive impacts of connectivity and mitigate the risks that may arise.”
JoAnne Akerboom (MIM 2018)
JoAnne Akerboom, MIM Class of 2018, was presented with the prestigious 2018 SIM Research Award, Master of Information, for her capstone project, Parental Awareness and Interest in Social Media Use: A Case Study in St. Anthony’s School.
Today’s technology offers an increasing array of innovative tools for communication. These advancements promise unimaginable possibilities and well as unforeseen risks. In a recent telephone interview with CEGE Connection, JoAnne shared insights from her research that speak to the need for parental awareness within a world barraged by social media. As Principal of St. Anthony’s School, Drumheller, Alberta, JoAnne’s research in this area of information management reflects her vision to provide leadership within an environment where high quality academic education is provided in a safe, caring, and Catholic setting. JoAnne has submitted a proposal to present her findings at the Alberta Teacher’s Conference, Spring 2019.
Picture this: A thirteen-year-old girl walks into the change room after gym class and takes a picture of her classmate undressing. She sends the picture to her classmates as a joke through snapchat. One of her classmates who receives the picture takes a screenshot and brings it to the principal.
Who is responsible for teaching this young girl about the appropriate use of technology? Is it the school? The parents?
This is one of many examples of the negative impact of social media. The irresponsible use of technology is a concern in our school division (Christ the Redeemer) and for many of our parents. As a result, our school division is developing curriculum to help address both the positive and negative use of technology with a focus on developing healthy relationships. Great initiative with another major element added – the involvement of parents.
Children access social media through multiple electronic devices – cell phones, tablets, computers and games systems. They can access social media at home and at school. We need to work together with parents and share information and resources that can keep our children safe and responsible. More importantly we need to help them understand and value the importance of healthy relationships that will help them navigate this evolving world of new technology and use it in a safe and responsible way.
The goal of my case study was to provide information to Christ the Redeemer School Division that can assist in helping parents and children use social media in a way that allows them to benefit from the positive impacts of connectivity and mitigate the risks that may arise.
Social media is a prevalent force in today’s society offering users the ability to develop and maintain social spheres in interactive, multimedia rich online environments. With this opportunity comes the risk of online vulnerability in which individuals can experience detriments to their psychological, reputational, or physical wellbeing because of their online experience.
Inappropriate use of social media is a concern for school administrators, educators and parents. We want our students to be cared for and safe. Parents and schools provide children with the tools to access social media, but how aware and interested are parents in their child’s use of social media? Given that parents are our partners in their children’s education, it is valuable to explore what parents know about the impact of social media on their children.
The recommendations that I presented were directed to Christ the Redeemer School Division but are applicable to other school districts. I look forward to presenting my findings to our parents at our parent council meetings this fall.
Recommendation #1: School Divisions should continue to develop and deliver curriculum to students on the responsible use of social media. School divisions could consider:
- preparing a plan to communicate with parents on the development and implementation of social media curriculum and
- partnering with community agencies such as law enforcement and health to create and deliver resources to both parents and students
Recommendation #2: Parents are encouraged to actively engage in ongoing conversations with their children on the use of social media; monitor their child’s use with the intent of supporting rather than penalizing their child and focusing on activities where there are more face-to-face interactions with their children.
Recommendation #3: The study demonstrates parents’ interest in more support and resources to assist them and their children in the responsible use of social media. Areas for further research include exploring the knowledge gaps in parents’ awareness of social media’s impacts and the potential for more supports for parents to better support their child’s use of social media and how the age of child may result in higher or lower levels of monitoring and conversation with parents
This MIM research project allowed me to explore and recognize our responsibilities to our emerging generation. My thanks to my supervisor Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, who inspired me to continue in the field of Information Management after the first course in the program. Thank you to the parents of St. Anthony’s School who were enthusiastic participants. My gratitude for the support of my colleagues and, in particular, Cora-Leah Schmitt, for her comments on the various stages of my paper. Finally, I want to thank my husband, Chris Curtis, and the rest of my family for endless support and patience.
JoAnne Akerboom, MIM Class of 2018, is the Principal. Anthony’s School, Alberta, Canada. “Making the World a Better Place To Be!” is the motto of St. Anthony’s School. As the principal of this school, her main responsibility is to provide leadership and support an environment where high quality academic education is provided in a safe, caring, and Catholic setting. JoAnne has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CEGE Connection