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Watch it! - Parish president urges parents to track their children's social media pages

Published:Saturday | December 24, 2016 | 12:03 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston

It's a full-time job to be a good dad
You got so much more stuff than I had
I gotta study just to keep with the changing times
101 Dalmations on your CD-ROM 

- Just The Two Of Us - Will Smith

She is a very good-behaving teenager in church. She sits on the youth choir and portrays all that a young Christian teenager should.

Her mother preens as many comments on her daughter’s qualities. But the social-media junkies familiar with her and her church activities have another story to tell. The racy photos, expletives, and sexual content make many go ‘hmm’.

The sad part is that her mother is not even on WhatsApp. Not to mention, she is clueless when it comes to Facebook and all the other social media platforms.

The story above is a reflection of the many homes where children run wild on social media, putting themselves in harm’s way, while their parents remain oblivious to it all.

While it is good to instill positive values at home and, maybe, even insist on children making church a part of their routine, Jamaica Teachers’ Association Clarendon Parish President Marjorieth Manning says parents should be exercising more vigilance pertaining to the protection of their children.

“Parents are strongly advised to get and stay connected to the various social media and be in the know concerning the myriad issues and challenges that are affecting our young people,” she said.

Manning also points out that parents should ensure that they keep the communication channels open with their children by being their best friend on Facebook, whatsApp, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

For her, it is very important that this be done as she stressed the dangers children leave themselves exposed to.

“There is a plethora of paedophiles out there that are desperately waiting to snatch our children from our grasp. We simply cannot allow this to happen. I, therefore, urge or implore all parents who are currently unfamiliar with social media to get in the ‘loop’ and save your children from themselves and the destructive forces around them,” she urged.

An easy way to ‘start getting with the programme’, according to Manning, is for parents to endeavour to establish a sound relationship with their child/children. Instead of calling, she said they could use the option of sending them a whatsApp message, a text or an email.

“Be aware of their profile pictures as sometimes, these are more revealing than you expect and they innocently expose themselves all in the name of ‘fun’ and youthful exuberance. Take the time to be patient and diligent with your children, but, most importantly, be open and forthright. Be the first to teach them and don’t allow social media to show them,” warned Manning.

A solution for Manning is for community organisations, police youth clubs and church organisations to get involved by hosting public forums or training sessions for parents/adults within the communities to disseminate information and have hands-on training on the pros and cons of social media use.

“If parents fail to inform themselves, then the repercussions will be detrimental not only to their children but to them. Parents, be in the know, arm yourselves with the requisite knowledge and skills in order to effectively communicate with your children on the various social media platforms. Remember, that knowledge is power. Stay informed,” are her sage words to parents.