Safer Schools Together presenter Nick Chernoff and White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears discuss digital-media issues including sexting and sextortion. (Tracy Holmes photo)

White Rock event aims to help parents raise tech-responsible kids

‘As parents, as educators… you have to learn’

It may be difficult for parents to imagine their teenaged son or daughter sending naked photos of themselves to an unknown elementary-school student.

But it happens, as police and school officials in South Surrey learned recently.

In fact, just such an incident occurred shortly before spring break, police say, noting those involved have been identified and spoken to, and investigation is ongoing.

White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears said she couldn’t share more information about the incident, but confirmed word of it inspired her to organize an evening to help parents learn more about the digital-media landscape that their school-aged kids are navigating, and how to guide them in traversing it responsibly.

“There are consequences for things we do online,” said Sears, who arranged for Nick Chernoff of Safer Schools Together to present to parents Wednesday evening (May 9) at White Rock Elementary.

The presentation – Raising Digitally Responsible Youth – isn’t about getting ahead of kids in terms of online and social-media expertise.

Quite simply, that isn’t going to happen, Chernoff said of the concept. But it is crucial that parents keep up as best as they can, he said, from the earliest moment possible, and even learn alongside their kids.

“You may not have grown up in it, but it’s not going anywhere. As parents, as educators… you have to learn.”

Chernoff – who is giving similar presentations throughout the Lower Mainland – described social media as “a small world,” but said many parents he connects with aren’t aware of the number and type of apps their kids are using, or just how widespread the content they post is going. As well, the majority of students have at least one stranger in their account, he said. And, students often don’t realize that photos they’re sharing by text can be used to pinpoint their locations.

Tips Chernoff plans to share with parents Wednesday include making technology a privilege, not a right, and teaching kids not to over-share online.

White Rock Elementary is located at 1273 Fir St. Doors open at 6 p.m., the presentation is to get underway at 6:30 p.m.

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