It takes a village . . . even online
While it is true that it takes a village to raise our children, as times change, so must the village, and so must we.
Parents of Aylmer are active, many know each other through school, sports, arts, and other activities. Parents and children, grandparents and extended family all come to know the families of friends, and, through this network, everyone keeps an eye out for the safety of children.
Today’s safety network must extend past grocery stores, parks and sports fields into the World Wide Web. For physical locations in Aylmer, there are clear safety nets. These keep the kids acting correctly in the library or arena. The kids benefit because they can safely turn to these acquaintances in threatening moments — when faced with intimidating people or strangers acting erratically. This works because Aylmer’s kids are being raised in this ever-vigilant village.
Now it’s time for parents, aunts and uncles, friends and acquaintances to move from this village into the digital neighbourhood. The reasons remain the same: kids need and deserve to be raised in the safety of their village. If our kids are moving to the online digital world, so must we, the rest of their community. It’s not an option for adults to turn a blind eye to the safety of this new generation. In both the digital and the schoolyard world, kids’ needs are the same: to recognize family and neighbours in the places they hang out.
This is a call for us adults to wake up to our responsibilities to protect our village together.
As it is, parents and neighbours go to parks, arenas, malls, and libraries when they might rather be gardening. They do this to fulfil their part of the social contract. What does this mean exactly? It means signing up for Instagram and Snapchat accounts —but not as silent observers of the activities of our kids — that’s as helpful as falling asleep in the park. Kids need to see that their adults are active, even just a little, in their social media.
Sure, kids will always seek ways to increase their privacy. But they can only really feel secure about stepping out (digitally or physically) if they are, and feel, anchored to their village.
When they say they don’t want their parents on social media, what that means is, “I feel secure enough to explore the world without my parents.” And this is a sign that the collective village is engaged and doing its job of providing a world safe enough that kids feel empowered to explore it. Aylmer’s great big village is up for this challenge. We parents are up for it. We can and must provide a safe world for our kids to explore by being present — even in the interweb.