Social Media Mondays: 5 keys to parenting in a digital age

by Karen

Parents who are bringing up children right now - you, me and every other one out there - are living in a time where things change so fast that some barely even find out about one innovation before something new comes along to replace it.

So, how do we raise responsible children in this age of connectedness and sharing?

I have a few ideas:

  1. Moderation - I'm not a big fan of the word balance. I think it looks too different from one person to another, but moderation is easier to grasp. Having an active life online can be a hobby and/or a job and/or an obsession. Maintaining interests outside of the online world helps keep you grounded and prevents obsession. We need to teach our children how to use these tools in a healthy manner.
  2. Education - Parents need to learn what's happening online and know how to use the tools. It's not uncommon for parents to be uninterested but for their kids to be heavily active. That worries me. It leaves what can be (or become) a major facet of a child's life untouched by the guidance of a parent.
  3. Exposure - <rant>It bugs me that social sites have been forced by law to institute age limits - 13 and older only. As a parent, it is my job to decide what sites, when and how much my child is online.</rant> My point in that little rant is that early exposure is actually good. Let's teach children from a young age how to incorporate online tools into their lives safely and develop healthy use habits.
  4. Privacy - On this subject, I could go on and on and on. If you are typing words into a device that saves or transmits data in any way, you have no guarantee of privacy. Screen captures, hard drive recoveries, ISP data - these are just some of the places where that data can be obtained. Children need to understand that what they say on any device - connected or not - matters. Choose words wisely!
  5. Kindness - Also, empathy and compassion. It's far too easy to let loose online without regard for the person on the other end, but the point is that there is a person on the other end and words do hurt. The written word is a powerful thing. We need to teach our children that bullying, judgmental attitudes and meanness are not okay - online or off.

It blows my mind that my son will never know what it's like not to have some sort of computing device readily available in his life. I remember what those days were like. I remember going to the library to look up everything I needed to know to write a paper. The analog age was time-consuming, wasn't it? Personally, I don't have any desire to go back to that, though I understand why some do.

We need to embrace these changes that technology and the Internet have brought to our lives so that we can teach our kids to use the tools at their disposal properly.

What is your biggest concern for your children growing up during this time?


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (3), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. Most recently, she can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping business use social media more effectively.

Expanding the Kids in the Capital community

Kids in the Capital is a growing and active community with contributors from all over Ottawa sharing their experiences with their children and we're constantly thinking about ways to create more opportunities for regular interaction. To that end, Lara and I are working to introduce several new elements of community that we think will foster an even greater sense of involvement in and around Ottawa. Our first step in doing this may seem like a small one on the surface, but once you see the activity that's already taking place, you soon realize that it's a terrific opportunity to share with other parents on a daily basis!

We'd like to invite everyone to join us in our brand-new Facebook group! This is an area we've set up as a "closed" group. What that means is that you have to request to join and you can only see posts if you're a member. The advantage of this setup is that it gives us a safe place to talk about challenges we're experiencing with our children/families, get support and sometimes really helpful hints for handling the situations we find ourselves in as parents.

Anyone in the group can post to the group and share information or concerns they're having. Lara and I will also post a question each day for everyone to participate in if they want. (Feel free to suggest some questions in the comments!) Sometimes we'll ask fun questions. Sometimes silly. Sometimes we'll ask people about themselves. And occasionally we're going to try to highlight some of the businesses in the Kids in the Capital community and give  the opportunity for them to share what they do.

To avoid spamming our members, we have established some guidelines that I shared in a post yesterday:

"We will be having a "question of the day" each day to promote discussion and we'll plan to solicit information about businesses periodically as part of that. Outside of those regular posts, we'd ask that people refrain from self promotion since this group has the potential to grow fairly large and we don't want people to feel spammed. We'd like everyone to respect the purpose of this group, which is to provide tips and support. But that can occasionally lend itself to sharing business info, so when it's part of the natural flow of conversation, we would have no problem with it."

That's the scoop on this new group! Please stay tuned next week when we announce another community-building aspect that will give everyone a chance to give back.

Will you join our group? And do you have any suggestions for our "Question of the Day"?

Blogging out loud

by LynnBlog Out Loud - July 7, 2011

Ottawa has one of the most vibrant, active, and friendly social media scenes that I know. The online version of this city is a place where everyone is welcomed, where so many people have amazing things to say. There's twitter, there's facebook, and of course, there's an amazing community of bloggers. Kids in the Capital itself is a great example of how a blog can be a gathering place for people with similar interests, all of whom live in this great town of ours.

Blog Out Loud is an annual event for Ottawa-area bloggers - and, just as importantly, their readers - to gather and share. It's a chance to meet those people whose voices you've only heard online, to finally put sound behind the words. It's a fun evening and a great way to really feel a part of something. And as an added bonus, 21 Ottawa-area bloggers will be reading out loud their favourite post from the past year, a personal retelling of funny, moving, powerful stories; meanwhile, a dozen Ottawa-area photographers will be displaying their beautiful artwork.

I am amazed at how many people are coming forward this year to say that last year's event sparked their desire to start their own blog. That hearing the bloggers speak, and meeting so many great people, inspired them to add their own voices to the mix. And a few bloggers who started their own blogs after attending BOLO are even taking a turn at the microphone this year, reading their own story.

You could be one of those people, too.

This year's event is this coming Thursday, July 7, 2011. It starts at 7 p.m. and runs until around 10. It's free, although we will be asking for donations at the door to help cover costs (suggested donation of $2). It's at The Prescott (379 Preston Street), and we'll be down in the basement reception room, with our own private bar.

So expect things to get LOUD.

You're all invited, so hope to see you all there!

Lynn is the planning mastermind behind BOLO and she also has a personal blog over at Turtlehead.

Parents in the Capital : Lara K

Ottawa has some wonderful bloggers and we are lucky that many of them are Kids in the Capital contributors and readers! We want to share some of our favorite Ottawa parent bloggers on a more regular basis so we have introduced a series of posts called Parents in the Capital. Say hello to Lara!

1. Tell us about yourself and your family (please include a photo if you’d like)
My name is Lara, I am a mom to a 3 year old "with heart" and a healthy 17 month old, who thinks she's 3!  Stinky Monkey has two heart conditions and has had one open-heart surgery.  After a rough first year in and out of hospital he is now stable, growing and doing things all other 3 year olds do.  Having a healthy baby, Bella Bear, was life altering and scarier than having a cardiac kid!  Before I had Bella Bear I was on a very driven career path, I've taken a step back on returning to work this time around to give myself, my knowledge base and most importantly, my family the attention they deserve.  My interests are volunteering with/for other cardiac families, shopping (helping the economy), and giving my kids the best opportunities and lives possible!

2. What is your favourite activity to do with your kid(s) in Ottawa?

The experimental farm is a family favorite for us.  Going early in the morning, packing a picnic and watching the kids explore the animals and amazing play structure ensures lots of great pictures and happy memories!  Also, Stinky Monkey is obsessed with tractors.

3. What is your favourite at home activity to do with your kid(s)?

Swimming, we put a pool in after Stinky Monkey was born, we knew travel would be limited so we invested in a heated, saltwater pool.  We can all keep cool, get exercise and are close to home!  We love to entertain and enjoy watching all the kids have a great time on hot, sticky Ottawa summer days.

4. What was the biggest surprise that parenthood has brought into your life? The source of strength and confidence I have gained. And both my kids are inspirations to me, they teach me to live more authentically, more real and more in the present.

5. What parenting tips/advice do you wish you'd known when you first became a parent?

That is a really hard question for me to answer because my experience becoming a parent was so different.  I suppose I would have like to have known before I had kids how little sleep the human body actually needs to survive and still function!
6. Tell us about your blog and how you discovered blogging.

I discovered blogging through friends (thank you Lara Wellman) that inspired me by their ability to use social media to share their stories and unique lives!
I had the best of intentions to blog regularly when I returned to work, but that hasn't happened. was meant for two things;
  1. To keep family/friends informed of how things were going with the kids, it gives me a space to provide status updates.
  2. As a place to provide other cardiac families with our story of how we are raising a kid "with heart" because our parenting is different, our issues are sometimes different.
7. What do you love best about being a parent in Ottawa?

The number of museums and kid-friendly spaces where we can explore, learn and socialize with so many others in the community.  I am also really appreciative of having CHEO and a great medical community so close to home, I know my kids, if and when they need it, can access great care.

Thanks Lara!

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Social Media Monday : Instagram

by Lara I have a big digital camera but it's not convenient to bring with me everywhere I go. For a while I considered carrying around a small point and shoot for the unexpected fun moments but having an iPhone in my pocket meant I essentially did have that. Sweet!

In the world of social media, the fun comes from sharing. I have hundreds of photos on my phone. Sometimes I chose to email them to services that could automatically put them on twitter for me, but most of the time I didn't.

Enter Instagram.

It is a fun and easy to use iPhone app (unfortunately only iPhone at the moment with no plans to launch android or blackberry options any time soon) that:

- takes photos - allows you to apply fun filters to them - with a simple click share to twitter, facebook or flickr - have a friends feed right within the application

Instagram Filters

What instagram has done is offer 16 filters you can apply to your photos. They can take a photo that might not have been that interesting and make it a lot more fun.

You can also zoom in and crop your photo.

Instagram tutorial/review

Instagram tutorial/review

Then play with the filters!

instagram tutorial/reviewinstagram tutorial/reviewinstagram tutorial/review


You can hook your account up to your Facebook, Twitter and and Flickr and have them automatically update to those sites (you select where each individual photo is sent, it isn't automatic). You can also choose to make your photos private and just keep them for yourself - they don't have to have a social media component.

instagram tutorial/review

You can also follow friends right on Instagram and like and comment on friend's photos right there.

You can also see generally popular photos on the whole of Instagram.

And there's a news feed

It's a really fun app and I now take all of my photos with my phone using it. If you use it too - look for me and add me, I'm glidinglara.

Happy snapping!

Lara Wellman is mom to 4 year old Kiernan and 2 year old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can read her personal blog at Gliding Through Motherhood, about her weight loss journey at Losing it in Ottawa, and her social media blog at

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