Academy of St. Dorothy Hosts Social Media Safety Workshop for Parents and Student
(February 2, 2023 - Staten Island, NY) Despite the requirement that users are 13 years of age or older, a recent study by Common Sense Media found that children as young as eight are increasingly using social media and have greater access to the internet. Observing the trend, and the pressures placed on grammar school students, the Academy of St. Dorothy (ASD) arranged for an internet safety workshop for both its parents and its students with the Center for Educational Innovation’s Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying presenter, Mike Reilly.
“Our children are growing up with devices in their hands, and it’s clear to all of us who interact with students on a daily basis that it impacts them in profound ways,” said Sister Sharon McCarthy, SSD, Principal. “We are constantly looking for ways to arm our Academy of St. Dorothy school community with information to protect the kids and help them thrive, and social media safety certainly appears to be the most pressing need in 2023.”
Well before adolescence, children growing up in this digital age are facing bullying, unrealistic expectations, predators and an archive of mistakes that will follow them through life. As Reilly explained to parents during their session on January 26, bullying no longer stops at the school doors; rather, bullying takes place 24 hours a day, seven days a week on social media sites.
What is the key to protecting our kids?
“Knowledge and communication are the most important weapons parents and guardians have in their arsenal,” explained Reilly. Although many parents think they are closely monitoring their children’s actions online, many children find ways around surveillance. From calculator apps that hide photos and video games with in-game messaging, threats can come from unexpected places. Keeping lines of communication open with your kids, monitoring their behavior and offering them a safe space to share is vital.
“One of the greatest challenges of being a parent today is navigating our children’s sophistication and constant immersion in technology,” said Jennifer Loughran, mother of two students at the Academy of St. Dorothy. “It’s undeniable that even our elementary school-aged children are more fluent and comfortable in digital environments than many adults. I believe we need continuing education just to keep up with them. The Academy of St. Dorothy recognized this need and thankfully provided us with this workshop to highlight the importance of the topic and provide us with much needed tools and information.”
“I am privileged to have had the opportunity to grow up at the Academy of St. Dorothy and now my kids are privileged to attend and grow in this supportive and loving environment,” said Rosanne Mottola, ASD parent and alumna. “However, the world doesn’t end at the walls of the school and for better or for worse, technology puts the world at their fingertips. I know I cannot fully prevent them from exposure to social media, and so I’m relieved to have this guidance to help them navigate this new frontier.”
Shortly after the parent presentation on Friday, February 3, students from Kindergarten to 8th Grade participated in an age-appropriate workshop with Reilly. “It was important that our students heard directly from a trusted adult -- outside their own parents and teachers -- about the dangers and pressures they’re facing on a daily basis,” said Sr. Sharon. “I believe the workshop was an important step in opening the eyes of our students to the consequences of their actions on the web and challenged them to be good digital citizens who are kinder to one another.”
“Ultimately, we want our students and our parents to keep their guard up, and know that if and when mistakes are made while navigating technology, we are here to help,” said Sr. Sharon.
About the Academy of St. Dorothy
Academy of St. Dorothy (ASD) is a private elementary school in Old Town with a focus on academic excellence through a nurturing, collaborative learning environment. ASD instills in students, from pre-k through eighth grade, the religious and moral values of a Catholic Christian environment - community, service, reverence and leadership. ASD offers instruction, activities and sports on its vast and easily accessible 13-acre campus.
Click here for an album of photos from the Parent Workshop.