Deerfield parents infiltrate children’s social networks
Social media expert Devorah Heitner helps parents understand the potential pitfalls of social media. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2012 3:09PM
DEERFIELD — From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, Deerfield parents said they are concerned about their teens’ exposure on the Internet.
More so, they expressed concern that their teens may know more about cyberspace than they do.
That’s why the Deerfield Parent Network brought Chicago-based social media expert Devorah Heitner to Deerfield High School on Oct. 18. The program was designed to get parents up to speed on the latest social networking trends.
Heitner, who has written an e-book, “Raising Your Digital Native,” shared her expertise with the more than 75 parents who flowed into the high school’s auditorium.
“I’m here to talk about what their kids are doing online,” Heitner explained. “I hope I have some reassuring news for them.”
Heitner said even though most kids are more “schooled” on the Internet than their parents, many are “digitally clueless” about the outside world.
“They can be so focused on Facebook that they’re not watching the news,” Heitner said. “So it’s really important for parents to remind their kids that there is really a larger world out there.”
Deerfield resident Martha Silverman, who is the vice president of the Deerfield Parent Network, said the group learned through parent feedback that social media has become a hot-button issue in the community.
“We felt it was important for parents who are not digital natives, as our kids are, to learn as much as they can to help with the process and to learn along with their children,” said Silverman, explaining the group’s decision to invite Heitner to speak.
Silverman said she’s concerned that children may be leaving a “digital footprint” online that may come back to haunt them.
“(Teens) need be aware of the permanence of allowing themselves into the cyber world,” Silverman said.
Fellow Deerfield parent Susie Wexler, who has three children ranging from middle to high school, said keeping up with Internet trends is like “chasing a moving target.”
“I think as a parent it’s really better that I know more about safety than my child,” Wexler said. “I have Facebookers, and my seventh-grader is on Instagram.”
During the presentation, Heitner said a common danger is teens feel obligated to “friend” people on Facebook who they may not know, allowing someone access to their personal and social networking activities.
“Kids feel bad for denying friend requests, even if they only met that person once (in real life), Heitner said.
She also said most teens don’t realize that a Facebook post is visible to everyone on their friends list.
“If you have 697 friends, they all now know what you said,” Heitner said.
Heitner offered one final bit of important advice for parents:
“Talking to your son or daughter or your children is more important that anything you can do to electronically track them,” she said.