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Tech-savvy youths take part in technology conference

Students with Wolf Creek Public Schools took part in a Youth Tech Nation conference Friday, June 3 at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC).
Macy Jensen of Crestomere School demonstrates the steps needed to use a 3D printer Friday

Students with Wolf Creek Public Schools took part in a Youth Tech Nation conference Friday, June 3 at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC).

The all-day event had students teaching students several aspects of how technology can enhance their education. Getting the day started were Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips, of Jo(e) Social Media in Red Deer, with a keynote speech that highlighted the benefits and challenges when using technology in social media settings.

One lesson from both of them was understanding that digital citizenship requires empathy and understanding of the technology available to everyone. Whitbread said that as parents get older, it is their children who tend to be the ones to show the adults how to use them.

Websites such as Instagram and Snapchat continue to evolve and change and it is the youths of today who embrace this technology. There are several reasons why people want to be social on these websites:

* A great way to connect with others;

* A way to learn new things such as news information;

* Personal branding;

* Because their friends are on the sites. “A lot of these platforms attract you because you’re not there,” explained Whitbread.

* Used for feedback such as showing skills in an area;

* Used to snoop on others. Whitbread suggested this is not always a negative connotation. Prospective employees may do this to ensure the company interviewing them values workers;

* Used to kill time when bored;

* To feel good about yourself;

* Or because people are lonely.

Phillips said the last three are popular reasons to go onto sites like Facebook but warns against using it for this reason. She recommends, if a person is bored, to put the phone down and visit with friends and family.

Despite some of the pros and cons of social media platforms, technology allows people to see news in real time. Some of the challenges people face, however, can be in hurt feelings from others.

Interacting with so-called cyberbullies is, in a way, allowing that form of abuse to continue. “It makes you feel awful,” said Whitbread.

Both he and Phillips recommend ignoring those individuals who want to argue frivolously or who have no desire at a solution to a problem. Whitbread says if they are the only ones arguing a point, it’s not a fight.

Another form of abuse is called subpost, which is when a person vaguely mentions someone they are displeased with but does not explicitly mention their names. Whitbread says this creates hurt feelings and causes others to questions themselves. The other area Phillips advised youths be educated on is that once something is put out online, whether it is a public post or direct message, there is a chance it could be made public.

“If you don’t have the guts to mention somebody you’re talking about then you probably shouldn’t post,” said Whitbread.

The key, says Phillips, is to have empathy for the other people on these sites.