Raffi and Jian Gohmeshi Discuss Social Media

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/Editorial

When I heard that the Jian Gohmeshi and Raffi sat down for an interview my first thought was “sweet!”.

I have a great deal of respect for Raffi Cavoukian. Not only is he an accomplished musician and author but he is also a prolific advocate for the rights of children.  Raffi shares his deep insights into issues that have a profound effect on the lives of youth and families, supported by his own reflections and investigations and his connections with other like-minded individuals.

I’m in the process of getting ready to launch myself into Raffi’s book entitled LightWeb DarkWeb.  Raffi focuses on youth’s use of the Internet and social media.  He also addresses parents in this book because – as he says in his interview – they are raising their children in the real and in the virtual world. This is a challenge that parents of tweens and teens didn’t have to face ten or more years ago.

Every now and then I exchange tweets with Raffi on Twitter from my BFamilyca and BCFamilyMedia accounts.  He lives fairly close to my location in British Columbia and we are usually in synch – time zone wise – online.   Raffi shares many more tweets about hockey than me but I do dip into the #hockeynight hashtag on a regular basis.  Here is an exchange that we had recently.  It reminded me that he has published his book and is discussing it now in interviews.

As I see the children in my life getting older, the issue of privacy and who is accessing their personal thoughts online is a major concern for me.

After Amanda Todd’s death I noted an attitude that was shared by parents and teenager’s alike. It goes something like this. “Amanda and youth like her are different. The teenagers here are not like that. They come from different socio-economic/family backgrounds. They don’t suffer from mental health challenges. This is not an issue that is a concern for them.”  I heard this feedback in person and saw it in writing. In one case it was a student writing in a student newspaper while addressing youth who attend a private, elite school.

Is it enough to say “oh yes my teen’s accounts are locked down.  Nobody can see them.  We know all about this topic.  We don’t need to be told anything more.”  Really?  Do parents know who is following their teen on their “private” Instagram or Twitter accounts? Do parents even know when their teens have Twitter accounts? Do they know what other accounts they are using such as Ask.FM, Snap, Kik or any number of text and video chatting services that appear in unexpected places such as on games or on video sharing sites? Do parents know what personal and often deeply private information their offspring are sharing on these sites? What effect will this digital trail have on their personal development, including their self esteem and self image?

I remain perplexed about one case that involves a youth’s use of the chat function on a YouTube like site. There has been discussion amongst people who hack for a greater good that this teen was already using this and other sites on a regular basis and in inappropriate ways for awhile. I thought that I might have misunderstood the information that I had read so I asked someone who is well informed  for confirmation.  My understanding was correct.  None of this information was reported.  I can understand why it wasn’t but in a way an important opportunity was lost.  It’s important for parents to understand that their teenager could be vulnerable online well before they are aware of what is going on.  The mistakes that they are making online could be taking place over and over again.

Statistically it might be a very small number of youngsters who suffer serious consequences from their use of social media.  But think about all of the social problems you had in high school.  Recall the classmates who gossiped about you, bullied and/or mocked you or spread false rumours.  Remember the times you divulged information to a friend only to find that your friendship crumbled months later and your information was shared with people who didn’t have the right to know.  Now imagine all of these issues playing out online in full view of your friends, school community.  Add in the strangers more than twice the teen’s age who living in an undisclosed location on the other side of the world.

The challenges youth face online might not lead to serious consequences but they could have a severe and negative impact on their personal and social development.

In his interview, Raffi discusses the main topics discussed in this book.  If you would like to know more about what is in Raffi’s book, here is a list of the Table of Contents as it appears on a local library site:

How I Use Digital Tech
Bananaphone to Smartphone
Part 1 Safety
Open Letter to Facebook
Red Hood Project
Unintended Audience
Teen Sharing
A Mother’s Concern
Safety by Design
Cellphone Safe?
Internet Hurting Kids?
Part 2 Intelligence
A Precious Gift
Unhealthy Enculturation
Brain Storms
Screen Dilemma
Bathed in Bits?
Facebook Blowback
Twitter-Free Weekend
Recording Sharing Everything
Pop Goes the Culture
Privacy Anyone?
Lightweb Darkweb
Seeing Lanier
Being Human
Re-Forming Life
The New Electricity
Love and Anxiety
Part 3 Sustainability
Rare Earth
Inside Apple
Challenging the Chip
Imitating Life’s Genius
Personal Responsibility
Systems View
Benign Design
Please Remember
Response Ability
Respecting Earth and Child
Beyond Social Media
Appendix A Making the Best of It
Appendix B Red Hood Project
Appendix C Is the Internet Hurting Children?
Appendix D Recommendations and Comments

When we think about the Internet’s dark web we’re now talking about the more anonymous part of the Internet. (Patrick Malcom, Cyber Security Expert speaking with CTV.ca.)

As Raffi explained to Jian, we need to think about how we can optimize the LightWeb (the positive corners of the Internet) for good while curbing the perils of the DarkWeb.

Please consider sharing the Q video link and encouraging your friends and contacts to read Raffi’s book. You can access it in your local library and might even be able to access an e-copy at your library. If your library lends out e-books and doesn’t have a copy, you could ask if it’s possible to add it to the list. You can also download an e-copy of Raffi’s book, order a hard copy online or buy one from a bookstore.  It’s available from Book Depository*, where they offer free shipping 🙂

Have you read LightWeb DarkWebYou can comment about this posting using the comment function below or on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

* This is not a sponsored post; however, I do have an affiliate relationship with Book Depository.  (Chosen by me because they offer free shipping and I’ve been happy with their customer service.)

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