Ask a PTA Leader: Collin Robinson

By Kisha DeSandies Lester
Collin Robinson

Collin Robinson is the proud soccer dad of Coral, and Asher, and has been an active PTA parent leader at his children’s school and regionally—eventually serving as Oregon PTA president. Robinson now serves at the national level as a member of the National PTA Board of Directors and as Chair of the Bylaws Committee.

Professionally, Robinson is a freelance web developer. He is passionate about using his expertise to educate families on how to use digital spaces safely and effectively, which makes him a perfect fit for his newest role: PTA Connected Ambassador.

What is your “Why” story? How and why did you get involved with PTA?                   

It all stemmed from being a youth soccer coach at my kids’ elementary school. I loved being a positive male role model for the kids I was coaching and deeply enjoyed building relationships and organizing events with fellow parents. A few of those parents I saw regularly at games and practices encouraged me to attend a PTA meeting one night to use my influence and experience as a youth soccer coach to connect with other parents in my community. Since joining, I have come to realize how much wider the impact I make as a PTA leader, and have never looked back.

Tell us one of your most memorable experiences as a PTA Connected ambassador?

There have been so many memorable moments! It’s been an honor to travel across the country, serving as a spokesperson and championing our association’s work in the digital space. But I think being part of Instagram’s Parent Guide launch in New York was one of the best thus far. It was a special experience to chat with students about the ways they’re actually using Instagram. I was given a platform to talk about my experiences as a parent, and the event is something I will never forget.

In your professional life, you’re a web developer. Why do you think digital literacy is so important?

Understanding how to navigate the digital landscape is becoming more than just a useful way to access part of our society—it is now an absolute necessity. The internet is like any other tool; it can be an amazing force for good or a terrible force for evil, it all depends on what we do with it. Kids need to understand that what they do in the digital world has serious repercussions in the real world, for better or worse. The internet is here to stay, and therefore knowing how to use it effectively and safely is an important skill for us all to have.

How do you engage with your kids about their online activity? What advice do you have for parents who want to start these important conversations?

In my experience, the key to discussing online activity has been engaging in open and ongoing dialogs with my kids. We make sure our values online are consistent with our values offline. I would encourage parents looking to start these conversations to engage with their kids online, rather than policing their online activity. Be prepared to learn from your kids—ask them about the newest online game or app, let them show their world to you and then bring up ways to make sure they engage with that world safely and responsibly. This accomplishes two things; It lets your kids know that you trust them, while also showing that you are paying attention to how they are using digital spaces.

How can PTAs better use technology to reach families?

The best way PTAs can use technology is to be visible in places that parents spend their time. This means being social and being mobile! Take a survey of your parents and see which social media site they’re on. Make sure your PTA has a profile there. Does your school use an app? See if your PTA can send out messages through it! The parents of today are more tech-savvy than ever, and they’re spending more and more time on their mobile devices. Therefore, our PTAs should be present on those same sites and devices.

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