If you are an educator or parent searching for just the right comments about digital parenting to use at a school, organization, or parent meeting, take a look at the blog post A Booster Shot on Parents’ Night by Ann Klotz over at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Klotz, the head of the Laurel School outside of Cleveland, hits the nail on the head, using a healthy child metaphor to describe the important responsibilities — digital and otherwise — for the parents of digital kids. Adults, she points out, must take on these responsibilities no matter how they feel about technology (or even how much more a parent thinks a child knows about technology). Below is one paragraph from Klotz’s post, but I suggest that you read the entire post.
Ann Klotz wrote:
Here’s the thing. If she is on the Internet, you must be, too. Even if she is taller than you are, you are still her parent. I want us — school and home together — to teach the girls to use the Internet — and all forms of social media — responsibly; they will make mistakes. While I want each of them to be respectful and thoughtful in their virtual interactions, they are adolescents; they don’t always make good decisions. You need to know who she is, who her social media persona is; you need to keep up and be knowledgeable about Facebook (passé as far as our students are concerned), Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever new technology comes along next week. And you need to learn whatever techniques she uses to keep you from seeing what she’s up to — not because she isn’t a good girl — no doubt, she is, but she’s navigating a brave new world. The Internet is the Wild West and the code of conduct has not been ratified yet. It’s easy to be unkind and believe you are untraceable, but we will not tolerate cruelty in this school.
The Wild West is another perfect analogy in Klotz’s blog post. The digital landscape for 21st Century preadolescents and teens changes dramatically every few months, and parents cannot learn enough about a child’s digital life. Not only does the connected world change with lightning speed, but there’s also the issue that most cherished values — at home and at school — are not that especially important to many of the people who are responsible for the constant changes. This is why, whether or not we understand everything that is happening in the connected world, we need to assert our roles as adults, parents, guides, and mentors who promote digital rules of the road to lessen the Wild West effects.
About a year ago I wrote a post, How Quickly Do New Apps Gain Kids’ Attention? sharing how in over just one year of my digital parenting presentations, the number of apps multiplied and then multiplied again. The illustration above right features thumbnails of the three charts, each much larger than the one that came before. Click on the picture to visit the original blog post and see the larger images,
Also, sometimes adults may just need a digital parenting checklist at the beginning of the school year. Check out my post from a few weeks ago, A Back-to-School Digital Parenting Checklist. Feel free to share it — with attribution — with your parents’ groups, book clubs, teachers, or other groups that are a part of your family or school life.
Any way you look at 21st Century digital family life, and no matter how much more today’s kids know about technology than their parents, adults are the mentors, guides, and of course monitors — taking proactive care to help their children avoid unnecessary connected world mistakes.