Making Digital Parenting Easier, Not Scarier

Made with Festisite.

Made with Festisite.

It’s nearly impossible to compare the parental responsibilities before and after the onset of the digital age.

Parents today encounter one challenge after another, and each family member lives a slightly different connected life. Deciding on devices and time to spend on them is only one parenting issue. Other issues include the monitoring of child’s privacy, the access to so much uncensored information, the ease of making mistakes, and parental worries about what happens with devices when a child visits another household with different connected-world rules. And then there’s the big problem for adults — how they model (or don’t model) appropriate use for younger family members..

Many parents approach digital family life with focus and ongoing attention. That’s why Jane Brody’s two New York Times articles, Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll and How to Cut a Child’s Screen Time made me a bit nervous, Brody aptly describes screen addiction, a situation that is not uncommon, and she points out that parents, too, need to learn how to disconnect and pay more attention to their children. Brody offers several top-notch resources for parents, and quotes Catherine Steiner-Adair, whose excellent book, The Big Disconnect, is an eye-opening presentation about the family and especially real-life parental problems in the connected world.                    Continue reading

Teach Kids to Protect Themselves from Hateful Information Online

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 3.07.42 PMAs I’ve thought almost continuously about the nine individuals murdered at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I’ve also spent time considering how a young person grows into a hateful individual. All children begin life as accepting young beings, but at any age, once exposed to hateful attitudes or violent behavior, attitudes can change dramatically.

I’ve read every article I can find that offers guidance to adults about interpreting horrific events and addressing topics that feel uncomfortable, most recently We Need to Deal With Our Discomfort and Talk to Our Kids About Racism by writer Meghan Leahy in the Washington Post. Interestingly, few of the materials that I’ve read address the issue of online hate, the ease with which users, including kids, can access it, and the need for adults — parents and educators — to ensure that 21s Century children possess the evaluative skills to recognize and thus inoculate themselves from hate material when it pops up on their screens. For parents conversations about race, privilege, extremism, and hate can create a considerable amount of discomfort.

Fifteen years ago only people taught children to hate. Today the transmission of hate doesn’t require human contact or conversation at all — just a computer, some misguided online searches, and a lack of adult supervision. If we want to raise children who recognize racism, understand privilege, and yes, speak out, we must be sure to pay attention to what they do online.            Continue reading

ISTE 2015 Independent School Outstanding Educator Award Video

ISTE3I am honored and, yes, thrilled, that my colleagues in the independent school educational technology community selected me to receive the 2015 International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Independent School Outstanding Educator Award. It recognizes my work connecting colleagues as the founder and moderator of the Independent School Educators’ Listserv (ISED), my experience mentoring classroom teachers at Georgetown Day School and technology colleagues around the country, the work I do supporting the parents of digital kids, and, of course, my blogging.

In the video below, Larry Kahn, the Director of Technology at Iolani School, presents the award.

To Learn More & Teach Effectively – Be Sure to Collaborate

ISTE 2015 - Philadelphia

ISTE 2015 – Philadelphia

Collaborating with colleagues from beyond our school walls helps us become stronger, better, and more innovative educators. As Oliver Wendell Homes wrote, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind…” To that I would add, “minds from other places.”

I am attending the 2015 International Society for Technology Educators (ISTE) annual conference where it’s a bit of a zoo — a crazy, good, really busy, intellectually stimulating zoo — with people to meet, activities to learn about, lectures to hear, things to play with, information to process, and much more. Collaboration is in the air.

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Parents: Discover Your Digital Footprints & Teach Your Children Well

Yes, once again it’s summer! To celebrate the season I’m writing specifically for the parents of digital kids — suggesting ways that parents can use this more relaxed time of year to learn more about their own digital footprints.

summer digital projects

While some of the activities are similar to those in a post from last year, this beginning-of-the-summer blog post aims to help parents gain a greater understanding of digital footprints for themselves — and then share this increased knowledge in conversations with their children. The longer term goal, of course, is to ensure that each child returns to school in the fall with more knowledge about the family’s digital profile, their own digital footprints, and privacy.

Below are some suggestions to help parents get started learning.

  • Log in and visit your Google dashboard.

    Log in and visit your Google dashboard.

    Google yourself. See what digital footprints others see when they Google your name or your email address. Then go to the Dashboard, while you are logged in, and see how Google keeps track of your activities. Dashboard notes everything a person does on Google — from email to images to alerts to searches and much more. Once you finish up learning about your own digital trail, organize a family digital footprint party and help every member of the family go through the same steps.

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How to Search for Yourself (and Your Reputation) on Google

“We’ll just use something, like, one of those reputation sites and, like, clean things up,” I  overheard two teenagers say in a Starbucks line the other day. The two, about high school age, were laughing together at something on their mobile phones.

repmanagementDo they really believe it’s that easy? At least, that’s what I wanted to ask, and I also wanted to show them how much some of the reputation management sites charge to burnish a person’s Internet profile.
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