February 12, 2010

Parent University 2010 – Kids and New Media

As a parent do the words, Facebook, Twitter, “Sexting” or Cyber-bullying raise an eyebrow?

Well to some District 203 and 204 parents, it raised more than an eyebrow, it sparked an interest to learn more.

With the help of the Naperville Collaborative Youth Team and Neuqua Valley High School, Parent University 2010 tackled the new digital language, shocking new laws, and what it takes to be a successful parent in these fast-changing times.

One mother of two young girls, Karen Blech, was drawn to the event by the keynote speaker, Parent Coach Institute CEO, Gloria DeGaetano.

“I’m looking for ways to guide my daughters through the challenges of the media age,” said Blech.

One primary question DeGaetano asked was simply, “what’s our identity around Media?”

She believes parenting has changed drastically in recent years, and kids are now exposed to a society that is constantly sending mixed messages on who to be, and who to become.

DeGaetano therefore believes it is essential for parents to combat these messages and maintain their own values and pass on their own messages to their children.

She addressed five key ways can help improve communication and bonds between the parent and the child.

“The five key things parents need to be doing is, bond with your child, help your children develop an interior life, the third is help your child really get into his or her own imagination, enjoy creative expression in your children and family, and the fifth, help your child contribute to what is larger than him and her.”

While there are improvements that can be made in the home, the law is now setting some boundaries too. After the lecture, parents had the option of attending two of fourteen workshops.

One class taught by, Naperville Police Department Sergeant Kathy Anderson and Lisle Police Officer, focused on where the law draws the line on new media.

According to new statues, children under 18 who send nude or semi-nude messages, or “sex-ting” is violating child pornography laws and could be asked to register on a sex-offender’s list. The law now includes electronic media in harassment laws. This means, any form of cyber-bullying through an electronic device is a class four felony and can result in jail time and exorbitant amounts in fines.

Overall, many parents found the full day of lessons to be useful.

One father of teenagers, John Sekowski said, “I think it’s an outstanding session, you don’t know what you don’t know, so until you get out and get challenged you don’t really know where the opportunities for improvement are.”


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