I'm about as plugged in as you can get in today’s modern society. At just about any time of day, I can be reached via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Skype, LinkedIn, Email, and Text. I'm a full-time, online community manager, content creator, and social media strategist. Since my means of employment sits in cyberspace, and considering that the internet NEVER sleeps, it’s very rare to find me far from my computer or phone.
There was a time when I tried to keep my family life separate from my life online, but as my children grew and became more involved in social media, I had to start making some decisions on how this would all shake out. After all, if perfect strangers could reach out and talk to me online, my children should certainly be able to. I decided to take it a step further by also ensuring my parents were connected to me as well.
Now, my parents are “friends” with my girls on Facebook, everyone follows each other on Instagram and although my parents don’t quite get Snapchat, they at least know how to use it. My rationale for all this is simple: technology should draw us closer as family members, not divide us.
For my teen daughters, we reinforce the message that if you wouldn’t share it with your family online, then don’t share it with strangers. Grandpa does not want to see your “sexy” pose. Awkward. For my parents, it keeps them abreast of a landscape that seems to change almost daily. For two people who remember having to get an operator to complete your call, the speed with which we communicate today is mind-boggling.
While we all follow each other online now and some of us being more proficient selfie-takers than others, we certainly did have a few hiccups along the way...like when my mother’s Twitter account was hacked. You would think that talking to my parents and my teens about internet safety would be different, considering there is a 60-year age difference between them, but the rules are actually the same, which means if you’re part of the sandwich generation, your life is about to get a whole lot easier. The TELUS WISE Seniors Program offers these rules that we always stick to:
By talking about and through technology we're keeping each other safe, much like we do in real life. When I heard about the TELUS WISE Generations Ambassador Program, I fell in love with it because it’s what my family has been doing for a couple of years now!
This program is all about getting grandparents, parents, and youth to talk about how they safely use the Internet, smartphones, and social media. Students in grade 9 to 12 are trained to host TELUS WISE footprint sessions for elementary students and TELUS WISE seniors sessions for Canadians over the age of 60. The program was developed using insights from group discussions with seniors and youth across the country as part of the 2016 TELUS Day of Giving.
I’ve seen this dynamic work in my own family, as my kids show their grandparents how to use social media. It’s a match made in heaven and here’s why:
An increasing number of seniors are embracing the Internet and social media as a way to connect and reduce isolation and depression. In fact, a study in the United States saw a 30 per cent reduction in the probability of depression. At the same time, we have Canadian high school students who are digital natives and have a need to fulfill volunteer hours and learn presentation skills. My eldest daughter starts Grade 9 this year and since she’s already been guiding her grandparents, she’s a natural. Once she’s obtained her training from TELUS, she will have the ability to host TELUS WISE footprint and TELUS WISE senior sessions within our community. Her time spent hosting these sessions will count towards her student volunteer hours. I believe this what is called a win/win.
Contact TELUS to find out more about how your teens can get involved in the TELUS WISE Generations Ambassador Program too!