CBC Radio Interview: Kids and Email

by Samantha on September 4, 2014

Should parents allow their children to have email and online accounts?

Gmail Does your child have an email account? Why or why not?

This is a question that I addressed on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning program about kids and online access. Following a discussion on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show on a similar topic, I delved more deeply into the questions that all parents face about when they should allow their kids online access.



Some topics discussed:

  • Should kids under 13 have an email account and online access?
  • How young is too young to be online?
  • How has parenting a child in the digital age changed from raising a child before the Internet was the norm?

As digital technology becomes the norm both at home and at school, kids are increasingly expected to have some type of access, whether it be via email or otherwise. This reality raises a number of issues and concerns for parents who worry about the safety of their kids as they venture online.

Is it okay to let a child under the age of 13 have an email account or online access? What are some of the considerations that parents should make before allowing their children online? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed by all of us who are raising our kids in the digital age.

To listen to the full interview, click here:

What are your thoughts? Do your children have email accounts? Why or why not? How much online access do you allow your kids? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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At what age is it okay for kids to have an email and social media accounts?

girl on laptop

Does your child have an email address? How about a Facebook account? How do you feel about your child being online at all?

Those were some of the questions posed in an interview that I did with CBC Metro Morning.

CBC Radio Metro Morning

As a parent raising kids in a digital age, as well as someone who is both a lover and avid user of social media, digital technology and online communications, the questions gave me pause.

For many, the thought of allowing their children online presents a conundrum, a Pandora’s Box of sorts. While there are many benefits to having access to the online world (can we say “Google?”), there are some real risks as well. This is particularly the case for those who are younger and more impressionable.

Parents worry about a lot of things when they consider their children’s potential online activities not the least of which include:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Exposure to inappropriate images, videos, information (pornography, violence, etc.)
  • Online stalking
  • Phishing and related scams

Yet, there’s no denying that digital communications is the standard these days. Try to get around finding information without some type of online element; I suspect it would be quite the task.

I allow my ten-year-old daughter to have an email account for a number of reasons, the least of which is that  she can communicate with her close family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles) and teachers - yes, teachers. It is quite the standard these days that teachers email information to both parents and students about school assignments, homework and activities. Implicit in these actions is the expectation that the child will have an email account and that the parents are in approval, and my daughter is no exception. For the most part, her peers have email accounts as well, with the full support of their parents.

That being said, there are some best practices that parents should follow when allowing their children online, whether it’s just for email purposes, or more. I talk about these, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), in the interview.

Here’s the full interview, below (first link is to Metro Morning’s website, second is to the segment via CBC Player).

What are your thoughts? At what age is it okay for kids to be online? Is email for a child under 13 okay? Why or why not? How about Facebook? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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VIDEO: Social Media and Kids - Top Tips For Parents

by Samantha on January 19, 2014

How to Keep Your Child Safe Online


Social Media and Kids - Tips For Parents

I recently wrote about the growing trend surrounding kids using social media. In Social Media and Kids - The Top 5 Things That Parents Need to Know, I provided some simple advice for parents who are looking for practical tips regarding their children’s engagement on social media channels. With the growing popularity of teens and tweens using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it’s impossible for parents not to have concerns about how their children are spending their time online. Instances of cyberbullying with serious and sometimes tragic effects make all of us parents realize that we must be more diligent in knowing what our children are doing online, and managing their behaviour.

Following the original post, I did a radio interview on the topic and a segment on Rogers Daytime Toronto to discuss social media and kids in more detail as well. See below for the full interview.

VIDEO: Social Media and Kids - What Parents Need To Know

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Social Media and Kids: What Parents Need To Know

by Samantha on December 13, 2013

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, kids are sharing information and images, often without understanding the consequences

young girl on computer

Times have changed and digital connectivity has become the standard for most of us. Online access, smartphone technology and a 24/7 interactivity has come to be the rule, not the exception. We love our technology and the many benefits that it affords us. Is it any wonder then, that our kids are as addicted to this very technology as we are? We can’t really blame them when we find out that they’re “tweeting,” “liking” and “Instagramming” almost every aspect of their daily lives, much to our chagrin. Social media has become the way that our children express themselves, interact with their peers and showcase themselves to the world - often without understanding the implications of this type of sharing.

Our children are on social media whether we like it or not. As disturbing as this reality may be to many parents, it’s a truth that must be accepted and dealt with if we’re going to maintain any control over what our kids our doing. Facebook, Twitter and many other social media platforms may indeed caution that the minimum age for participation is 13, but we all know of many kids who are much younger who have profiles on these and similar social media sites. As a matter of fact, it’s sometimes the parents themselves who open up their child’s Facebook or Twitter accounts for them (in some cases pre-birth).

We’ve certainly relaxed the standards for our kids, perhaps in part because we ourselves as parents are as enamoured of social media as are our younger counterparts. It’s difficult to say “do as I say, not as I do,” especially in this digitally-connected day and age.

Because of this, there are some important considerations that parents need to consider regarding their kids’ social media use.

Social Media and Kids - The Top 5 Things That Parents Need To Know

1) Understand the Medium - First things first: You can’t possibly help or monitor what your child is doing without yourself feeling comfortable with the platform upon which the child is operating. Know what your kids are dealing with. Don’t get Facebook and can’t figure out Twitter? Get help by enlisting a trusted friend or family member who can teach you the ropes. Learn how to navigate the popular sites with ease and feel comfortable with the format, lingo and rules of how others on the site interact. By doing so, you’ll be much better prepared to deal with any issues or situations that your child may encounter online.

2) Set Rules of Engagement – Okay – so you’re fine with your child being on Facebook or Twitter. That fact has been established. If you’re indeed a parent who has given permission for your son or daughter to be one of the more popular social media platforms, now’s the time to sit down and discuss the rules of engagement. This means asking questions and setting expectations. Is there a particular site that you will absolutely not allow your child to visit? Then let her know. Is there a time frame within which she can interact online on these sites every day? Make sure she’s aware of it and agrees. The rules should be clear and everyone should be in agreement. With instances of inappropriate languages, images and cyberbullying occurring on social media daily, this step is especially important.

3) Enforce Privacy Settings - Make sure that your kids understand that anything posted online is equivalent to putting the same personal information up on a billboard for the world to see. A venture into the world of Facebook can mean a lot, and more than one young person has found out the hard way about how making posts and pictures “public” can have long-term negative effects on one’s reputation.

4) Use Technology to Your Advantage - If you’re really stressed about your kids’ activities online, there are tools that can help you to monitor and in some cases block your child from social media use on certain sites. Just as there have been parental controls for video games for some time now through such organizations as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), there is now an option for parents who want better control over their kids’ social media activity. FamilyControls is one app that allows parents to control their child’s social media behaviour over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from one integrated, simple platform.

5) Lead By Example – The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and no more true is this idiom than in the case of social media. If your kids see you jostling to get the best shot of the most mundane moments of life, just so that you can post a picture of it on your Instagram account, they’ll follow suit. If you post inappropriate images or comments on social media, the will be seen by your children, guaranteed. Limit and moderate your own social media activity so that your kids realize that there’s a time and a place for everything.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

I was asked to do a radio interview regarding this post on CKNW Newstalk 980 in Vancouver. Here’s the full audio:

VIDEO: Social Media and Kids - Tips For Parents


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Lane Bryant

snooping on kids
How do you feel about snooping? You know - going through your kids’ stuff, reading their diaries (if they’re older) or checking their online footprint? Is it a parent’s right to snoop on their kids?

As our children enter their tweens, this topic becomes particularly pressing, especially these days. Kids are doing and saying things that make many of us uncomfortable, to say the least. And as we continue to address the very real concerns about parenting in the digital age, we realize that it’s not just the older kids that we have to worry about. How many of us hand our kids our smartphones, tablets or laptops in order to distract or entertain them when we need a few minutes to do something else? Our children have online access and as a result, they’re interacting with others, often without our knowledge. Add to this the growing problem of cyberbullying and its repercussions and we have a very real issue that we can’t ignore.

As parents, we have a responsibility to know what our kids are doing and to protect them from harm. To this end, there are those who say that snooping is part of the game. Others disagree, saying that we should trust our kids as well as give them their privacy. True; children do need to be trusted and their privacy does need to be respected. But to what end? That’s the crux of the issue.

Today’s Monday Musings asks the question “Is it ever okay to snoop on your kids?” The answer will surely be divided and many of us are still trying to figure things out.

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s discuss.

VIDEO - Is it Ever Okay to Snoop On Your Kids?

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Parenting in the Digital Age: Technology in the Classroom - Pt 1

April 23, 2012

Technology in the classroom is here. Are you ready? Can there really be “too much of a good thing?” Apparently there can be, according to the educators in South Korea. A recent Wall Street Journal article shed light on the country’s decision to cut back on the amount of in-class digital technology exposure that the […]

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