Parents learn about computer safety, early childhood literacy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Megan McDonald, a computer literacy teacher at Albion, leads a workshop for parents last week. The four-part program with other specialists will continue until March 31.

ALBION – Parents were urged to think twice about posting and identifying pictures of their children on Facebook and social media sites, especially pictures that the children could some day see as embarrassing.

“Think about the pictures you are posting of kids,” Megan McDonald, a computer literacy teacher at Albion, said during a workshop last week. “Don’t overshare.”

Pictures that “tagged” and identify children can be accessible for years to come, McDonald said.

“You are creating a digital footprint for them,” she said.

The Albion Rotary Club is teaming with the school district and Head Start at Community Action to put on a four-part literacy program for parents of children from birth to age 5.

McDonald led a session on Internet safety. She urged parents to learn about the many different social media sites used by children, and to keep kids from signing up until at least 13 for Facebook.

Parents shouldn’t view social media as a dangerous activity, McDonald said, but they should show some caution. She said the sites can help strengthen relationships.

Parents should put privacy controls on social media accounts so kids’ posts and pictures can only be seen by friends and family.

She said there are other sites that allow children to code and build technology skills.
She urged parents, especially with young children, to limit their screen time and have them away from computers and gadgets with breaks after 20 minutes.

She also tells her students to keep a media log to track how much time each day they spend on cell phones, TV, video consoles, tablets and computers.

“I’m all for digital media, but we want them up and moving,” McDonald told parents. “Manage kids’ screen time and have other alternatives.”

The four-part literacy program will give parents of children from birth to age 5 tips on helping their children excel at school. Besides McDonald’s presentation, a speech pathologist addressed parents last week.

Other upcoming sessions include Feb. 25 on story telling (will help parents tell their own stories) and will focus on making reading fun; March 10 will focus on prekindergarten and kindergarten readiness with the parents’ role. That workshop will include classroom visits.

The program will conclude on March 31 with a family fun night that includes children’s author Josie Waverly, professional storyteller Gretchen Murray Sepik, and other games, stories, prizes, refreshments and a book fair.

The program is free and open to parents in the Albion school district. Child care will be provided. Parents should enter at about 5:45 p.m. through the community entrance in the back of the school.

For more information, contact Community Action at 589-5683.