by Wilson Afonso
Last night, Dave and I hosted a presentation and forum on internet security and safety for the Parents' Association for our school. I feel like this is the first time I have presented professionally to a group that is not made up for children so I was extremely nervous.
We had a few months to get things ready but when school is in session, it is so difficult finding time to do all the research and it needs to be done outside of the school's normal operating hours. I am not sure how my counterparts do it. Do they ever sleep? How do you find time to exercise? eat? teach?
Anyway, it was a really wonderful forum. We invited one of the deans as well as our school psychiatrist to join us. Since we were in front of parents, we were anticipating being asked questions that would fall beyond our expertise as information professionals. Let me say, if you are ever going to give one of these presentations and host a forum like it, have someone from administration on board. Because those questions that you will worry about - questions about school policies, questions about what parents should do - will come up. Though, we know about the school policies, we really are not in positions to speak on behalf of the administration but a dean and also the school psychiatrist will have insight into those things and will know how to share that knowledge with the parents.
Dave spoke on internet security and of course, was incredible. He's one of the best speakers. He's funny and engaging. I wish I could be funny but most of the time, I'm thinking about what it is I want to say. I took the part about internet safety. The section that parents started asking questions about was on privacy. There was a lot of questions about Facebook and other social networking sites. We tried to calm their fears and I think, they calmed each others' fears. At one point, one of the parents asked if she should let her 7th grader have an account on Facebook. A lot of the other parents started saying, "I won't let me child have an account" and "I'm the system administrator in my home and I won't let that happen." Another parent said "Well, that child is just doing their job" by saying "everyone's on Facebook." We took an impromptu poll about how many 7th graders had Facebook accounts and the majority of parents said that their child did not have accounts. Seeing that, definitely, reassured the parents who were unsure of their decision to not let their child have an account.
It was such an interesting discussion and I also learned a lot about what parents are concerned with and also what our administration's stance is on things. I also have to trust that I know what I am talking about. Before going down to the room where we were presenting, Dave reminded me that we do know more about these things that other people because it is part of what we do.
Hopefully, we have another opportunity to show the community what we as librarians do as well as collaborate more with other people in our school.