Safe Social Networking: Speaker Paul Davis To Visit
If he speaks to tweens and teens up to four times each week in schools across North America about responsible mobile device usage, then it stands to reason that Paul Davis would have explicitly-defined rules in his own house --- wouldn’t it?
The father of two teenagers will address students and parents at St. Michael’s College School on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, dispelling myths, sharing truths, and deconstructing commonly-held beliefs about how technology and digital platforms truly work, and their powerful impact.
THE MEDIUM OF THE MESSAGE
Davis has worked in IT for 28 years and counting. Since 2012, he has crisscrossed Canada and the continent presenting to thousands of students, teachers, school administrators, parents, police and other professional audiences --- on safely navigating the online world.
“The whole foundation of the presentation is to give them facts and understanding of how tech works in an effort for them to make wise decisions,” says Davis.
“The problem is kids don’t understand how tech works. They talk to each other. They think they know what’s happening. The reality is they don’t know how things work, so I like to break it down.”
I tell them ‘you have a lot of accountability and responsibility at your age. The responsibility is to yourself and the accountability is to your parents’. I hold them to account and I think nobody else does,” he says.
Lauded for delivering impactful and resonant presentations, Davis says his technical expertise steers a fact-based explanation on what makes social networks tick.
He also categorically dismisses common excuses used today about social media blunders, including, “I didn’t mean to do that. It was an accident. It was a mistake. Or it was a lapse of judgement,” he adds. “These are four huge lies. And we’re actually taken for fools when we sit there and say yah, you weren’t thinking. You were. Nothing on technology happens accidentally, magically, mistakenly or through a lapse of judgment.”
Davis concludes, “What I’m doing is elevating the responsibility of the child and the accountability of the parent.”
As for parents, Davis is clear on their role in an increasingly complex digital world rife with pitfalls from cyberbullying and sexting to online privacy or lack thereof.
“When it comes the topic of sexting and child pornography, we are inundated. In some communities in Canada, it’s a pandemic. We’ve got a problem and that is factual,” he says.
“As a cyber-parent, I worry about other people’s kids a lot. I worry about the parent who is disconnected from their kid who believes my kid has a smartphone, they’re one their own, they’re out of my hair, they’re smart enough, they get all this --- when the reality is most of them don’t and the parent doesn’t understand it, so it concerns me that disconnect between the parent and the child.”
At the same time Davis believes all is not lost. The problem is fixable, he says, provided that parents are prepared to put in the effort and role-model appropriate behaviour on social networks themselves.
“I want a parent audience out there because they care enough to want to understand it for their kids,” he says. “Unfortunately, too many parents come out when it’s reactive. There’s hurt, there’s harm, now we need to show up. I don’t like it to get to that point.
I want people to come out saying, we’ve empowered our kids with technology, we need to understand this.”
NO ENFORCEMENT NECESSARY
And that brings us back to the Davis household. How do he and his wife manage social networking platforms with their own children aged 14 and 17 years old?
The rules are crystal clear.
“Rule number one: no technology in my kids’ bedroom. Those rules aren’t just mine, they’re the same rules as every cyber guy I’ve ever met in my life who has kids. The same rules that Steve Jobs had for his kids. That’s the golden rule of safety.
Rule number two: when you are connected on these social media platforms --- real human contact. Not people you think you know, kind of now, might know --- you think you met them, you might know them, they’re the friend of a friend --- all this is garbage.
I want real human contacts and I want private accounts, meaning you only let people into your life that you absolutely know.
“Nothing on technology happens accidentally,
magically, mistakenly or through a lapse of judgment.”
Paul Davis, speaker
Rule number three is be respectful and respect the technology cause it’s very powerful and it could impact you negatively if you don’t respect the rules.
Rule number four is disconnect, meaning at every table that serves food – we don’t have technology. That’s just rude. When you are in the presence of company, put the device away. Focus on the person next to you. Be a human being. That’s incredibly important. I encourage disconnecting.”
Davis adds, “I don’t believe banning is the answer because there can be benefits to the device. I believe in restrictions. Phones are distractions. It’s factually proven.”
And as for ensuring the social networking rules are followed by his own children?
“My kids grew up in that environment so there’s really no enforcing it. It’s one strike and you’re out.”
Paul Davis, Social Networking Safety educator, visits St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, addressing the student body during the day, and parents in a separate session at 7 p.m.