The Conundrum-Children’s Privacy or Parent’s Privilege?

As we continue our Coding@Schools journey to reach 6,000 kids, we still find it challenging to keep the children engaged after the camps through our social media platforms. The Facebook group stands at a mere 1,900 likes and there is no real way of separating the observers from the participants.

We strive to empower the community to grow organically. These are the constraints we have identified :

Made by Vani Mahadevan using Canva

Which thus brings us to the bigger question of whether its our expectations that are mismatched with the reality of our environment. Is there a way we can work around this? Are we ahead of our time? Balancing all the different pieces of the puzzle especially in a fluid terrain like Asia sometimes does make one feel like a tightrope walker!

3 sides to a coin?

As a parent I can relate to this-any activity that would require my 10-12 year old to engage on social media actively requires a great deal open mindedness and bravery-especially in rural Asia. One almost feels that without restrictions, your child will slip away from you into dangers that lurk at every corner of the internet. The competitive educational environment where academic excellence generally takes precedence over extra curricular activities (which our program is positioned as) is definitely another factor.

At the same time you have the kids on the other side who are eager to participate and want to explore more as “oh Coding@Schools is FUN” and can’t wait to lay their hands on the latest mobile device and to swim in the river of unlimited data!.

Then you have the teachers-wanting to do their best to extend exposure to the kids while at the same time staying within the rules and regulations imposed by the powers that be.

How do we get these 3 sides to be on the same page in a comfortable and safe environment?

Building trust

Some research into this area may shed some light. In their research paper “Using Social Media to Improve a Parent-School Relationship” (, Aunchalee Chairatchatakul, Prapaporn Jantaburom, and Wanida Kanarkard in their study done in 2012 in Thailand, suggest that schools should educate parents on the use of social netwoking sites and that this goes beyond technology as it is more about connecting and sharing with others using technology as a medium. I think this study shows that such education builds trust between schools and parents and helps them to be on the same page. I personally think there are valuable lessons from this study that we can take away and apply to our efforts. Some of the key takeaways are :

Key Takeaways
Source of Information : Using Social Media to Improve a Parent-School Relationship

What about us?

What do the students feel about all this? Do they feel that this increased interaction on social media between parents and the school is an intrusion on their privacy? Or do the parents feel that it is their privilege to monitor their teens?

In the study entitled “Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring” by Monica Anderson at the Pew Research Centre sheds some light on this. The survey found that today’s parents “take a wide range of actions to monitor their teen’s online lives and to encourage their child to use technology in an appropriate and responsible manner”. The main findings of this survey are :

Parents Teens and Digital Control
Source of Information :


Perhaps the feature article Parents: Watch those social media posts (Kirsten Weir, APA Monitor, July/Aug 2017, Vol 48, No 7) best provides a conclusion to this conundrum by questioning that while parents worry about their children’s usage of social media, “parents should also think harder about their own online habits-especially when it comes to their children’s privacy”.

So I leave you with no clear answer to this  conundrum but with some food for thought to think about as parents, children and educators. What is clear though is that clear communication and education may just be key to unlock this.


Aunchalee Chairatchatakul, Prapaporn Jantaburom, and Wanida Kanarkard ‘Using Social Media to Improve a Parent-School Relationship’ International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 2, No. 4, August 2012

Monica Anderson, ‘Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring’, Pew Research Centre, Jan 2016.

Kirsten Wier, ‘Parents : Watch those Social Media Posts’, APA Monitor, July/Aug 2017, Vol 48, No 7.(


The Coding@Schools Social Media Journey-Challenges

This post needs to be read in conjunction with the earlier post to provide some background information.

coding at schoolscoding at schools website

Our Challenge

Our challenge is centred around increasing the active participation in the post program activities in the form of competitions and continued learning that we want to encourage among the participants. While we would have trained nearly 3,000 students by the end of 2016, the FB likes remain at close to 1700 participants only. Twitter take up is even lower. We would like this to be as close to the number of students trained or at least the teachers and parents, if not more.

For the purposes of this blog entry, I will be looking at it from the context of a ‘Social Media and PR Campaign’.

One of the scholarly research articles I looked at in studying this further was a research article titled Engagement across 3 social media platforms : An exploratory study of a cause related PR campaign by Hye-Jin Paek, Thomas Hove, Yumi Jung and Richard T. Cole. This study analysed a social media campaign across 3 different platforms in promoting child welfare.


The study (although it was across a small population) yielded 2 important findings :

  1. People’s use of different social media platforms such as blog, Facebook and Twitter was for the most part related to the campaign’s behavioural goals-ie the more people used each platform, the more they carried out each desired behaviour.
  2. Engagement played a mediating role between social media platform use and the campaign’s behavioural goals-that is for offline communication and helping behaviours but not social media behaviour.

Reference : Hye-Jin Paek, Thomas Hove, Yumi Jung, Richard T. Cole, Engagement across three social media platforms: An exploratory study of a cause-related PR campaign, Public Relations Review, Volume 39, Issue 5, 2013, Pages 526-533, ISSN 0363-8111,

Having said this, our challenge is still on how to get the engagement in the first place-meaning how do we get the participants into the loop?

Which now brings me to the second scholarly article that was looked at which is “Social Media : The new hybrid element of the promotion mix” by W. Glynn Mangold and David J. Faulds from the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

This article discusses the perspective of Integrated Marketing Communications which attempts to coordinate and control the various elements of the promotional mix to produce a unified customer focused message. This article is more in the context of marketing in a commercial sense but I believe that the principles from here can be equally applied in a non-profit/campaign situation with some minor adjustments. The article also examines social media’s hybrid role in this mix.

We have attempted to apply one of the learning from this article in the coming weeks by “Utilising the Power of Stories” to create more vivid memories and we will need to see if this has any impact in increasing engagement.

I don’t think we can come to a conclusion per se in overcoming our challenges by only looking at the above 2 articles. Further research is needed to look at this in further depth to see how we can improve the takeup rate.

In the meantime, I also found this interesting read which is directly applicable to our situation which I shared in my profile today 20 Amazing ways for Teachers to use Social Media in the Classroom (Ref :

Here is another article that I found interesting and relevant Making the Case for Social Media in Schools (Ref :

So the journey will continue in the coming weeks as we hopefully get a better understanding of how we can do this better!


  1. Hye-Jin Paek, Thomas Hove, Yumi Jung, Richard T. Cole, Engagement across three social media platforms: An exploratory study of a cause-related PR campaign, Public Relations Review, Volume 39, Issue 5, 2013, Pages 526-533, ISSN 0363-8111,
  2. W. Glynn Mangold, David J. Faulds, Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix, Business Horizons, Volume 52, Issue 4, 2009, Pages 357-365, ISSN 0007-6813,
    Keywords: Integrated marketing communications; Social media; Consumer-generated media; Promotion mix









My Social Media Journey

My social media journey started sometime in 2007 (jeez its 10 years already!!) when I started my Facebook account. It started with the Facebook page being for personal purposes. Eventually we started incorporating this into our work which involves building online communities and we soon realised that Facebook offered us a valuable opportunity to communicate with as well as inform with our various communities.

Then in 2010, I spread my wings to blogging when I became the unofficial blogger of our delegation during my participation in the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) which was themed A New Beginning : Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation. IVLP is the premiere work exchange program run by the US State Department. The IVLP I was a part of was a new series initiated by President Obama in 2010 during the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It was an exciting trip and opportunity.

Coming back to Facebook, a program where we actively used this is Global Startup Youth (GSY) .

gsy cover

which has garnered more than 30,000 likes. GSY involved over 500 youth from over a 100 countries around the world. This was my first experience in using Facebook for work and as Administrator and Program Director I had a steep learning curve (and a lot of fun 🙂 ) in learning about boosting posts, creating interesting posts to both promote signups as well as a communication tool to accepted delegates. This was handy especially when it came to logistics which turned out to be a nightmare. Maintaining calm and peace amidst all the chaos of trying to juggle flights, accommodation, visas, speakers for everyone to arrive on time was extremely challenging. In doing this, I learnt that keeping everyone uptodate and being transparent was key as every information/post has the potential to be the spark that ignites a new fire i.e go viral.

We next used it when we were engaged to manage the inaugural Young Southeast Asian Leaders Inititative (YSEALI) Workshop, an initiative of President Obama in April 2014 managed through the US State Department.

When working on the first workshop, we worked with both Facebook and Twitter to engage with the participants. This was my first encounter with Twitter where we regularly held Twitter hours with the participants to encourage engagement as well as to help shape the content. We all got a chance to meet President Obama at the Town Hall in Kuala Lumpur and it was definitely a highlight of this engagement.

After this I got more and more comfortable with both platforms (FB more than Twitter) and we regularly used this in our subsequent programs as a way to continuously engage with the participants of our various training and entrepreneurship programs especially after our initial face to face engagements with them.

Context : Social Media and PR Campaigns

We are currently actively using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram to actively engage with and grow the online community of a primary school coding training program we have been running nationwide in Malaysia since 2016. Its called Coding@Schools and as the program primarily relates to primary school students, we do face some challenges and constraints in using these mediums as a tool to engage. The Facebook page at is kept active with the various activities of the program.

coding at schools

Why is this a challenge and constraint? Well since the participants are below 12 years old, parents and schools do impose restrictions on the use of social media platforms during school and after school and we are finding ways to work around this. This is where I believe that the learnings from this unit will help me (and the team) achieve that.

Our Challenge

Our challenge is centred around increasing the active participation in the post program activities in the form of competitions and continued learning that we want to encourage among the participants. The overall program is structured around face to face engagement that is then to be followed up with self-learning by the students guided by their teachers and online engagement. Incentives for participation in the social media platforms are offered in the form of rewards and prizes. While we would have trained nearly 3,000 students by the end of 2016, the FB likes remain at close to 1700 participants only. Twitter take up is even lower. We would like this to be as close to the number of students trained pr at least the teachers and parents, if not more.

The other challenge is of course this is a bit of a ‘greenfield’ area in that there are not many examples that we can use as this is not in a traditional context. It is neither a purely non-profit, education or PR campaign context. It is possibly the place where all the 3 intersect. Having said that, I am sure we can find learnings from the different contexts to be applied to achieve our social media objectives of this program.

More in the next post!


sum logo

Hello Everyone! Hope everyone has had a good weekend. My name is Vani and I am a Director at ( an organisation that is based in Malaysia.

I currently live in Perth, Australia. I am also a Masters in Communication student at Deakin University. I am currently doing 2 units that are very relevant to the work at our organisation-ALC 701, Social Media Principles and Practices and ALR 701-Public Relations Writing and Tactics.

I have started this site with several purposes in mind. One is of course that this is a requirement of my ALC701 unit. The other reason is to use this as an opportunity to share my learnings with other members of my team so they too can gain new techniques and resources to apply in their daily work. I believe they will join me in collaborating on this blog by sharing their on the ground experiences as we roll out some of our new approaches to our ongoing campaign to increase engagement across our various communities from our various programs. Will it work? Only time will tell.

Personally, the ALC701 unit has so far been one of a steep learning curve for me. From being a “Social Media=Facebook” user I have had to take a leap of faith and explore several other platforms such as, Twitter, Periscope, Powtoon, Zoom and WordPress and I am sure the list will grow by the time I finish this unit. I hope to keep this going beyond the unit so that it can be a common learning space for the team so we can all increase our knowledge base together.


That’s it from me for now.