Posted in 21st Century Learning, anonymity, choosing reliable resources, civility, connected learning, conversations on commenting, data collecting, digital citizenship, digital life, digital parenting strategies, fact-checking, information credibility, misinformation, NewseumEd, parents and technology, personal information, privacy

5 Digital Life Topics for 21st Century Family Dinner Conversations

Parents often ask for suggestions about the steps they can take to help their children develop stronger and more robust digital world skills. I often suggest that families use the time spent eating together at the dinner table to bring up and consider connected world topics. Most adults will recall that, as they grew up, dinner table conversations were a time when family members learned together, chatting about critical issues and challenges in the world, Today’s family mealtimes are just as important. Below are five topics that can encourage learning, lively discussion and improved decision making, all while eating a meal together.

dinnter conv topicsPersonal Information
Begin a discussion about the collection of personal information in the digital world. Share ideas about what comprises an individual’s personal information — considering what can be public and what should not. Why is it important to think about protecting personal information? The MediaTechParenting blog posts below to help get the conversation started.  

Can everyone around the dinner table explain their understanding of personal privacy? Knowing how to limit exposure of one’s personal information and personal images is one of the greatest challenges in the digital world, and it is not getting any easier. Also, use some time to learn together about algorithms, the little computer programs take bits and pieces of a person’s information and put them together to try in order to figure out even more about a person. Can family members puzzle out what pieces of their own information, when put together, could offer even more knowledge about themselves? So why is a person’s privacy so significant? Use the MediaTechParenting blog posts below to help get the conversation started.

Civility and Restraint
Last night at the grocery store a man held the door open for me, and I noticed his hat with the message “Make America Civil Again.” He and I had a spontaneous conversation about the lack of civility in today’s world and how easy it is, especially online, to suddenly forget about restraint and engage in uncivil behavior. Can the individuals at your dinner table each recall at least one situation, online or off, when restraint was forgotten and uncivil behavior followed? What strategies can a person use to maintain his or her restraint? Use the MediaTechParenting blog posts below to help get the conversation started.

An important notion to share with family members is that anonymity is often a false construct, one that encourages inappropriate behavior and makes cyberbullying easier. Just because an individual makes a comment or does something anonymously does not necessarily mean that a person won’t be identified. In fact, those algorithms collect and combine information in the connected world make it even easier to identify people who are trying to be anonymous. Use the MediaTechParentig blog posts below to help get the conversation started.

Fact Checking

Recognizing misinformation, indeed, knowing how to determine what is really fake as opposed to what people might claim to be untrue, is a critical skill for every learner. One activity at the NewseumEd website encourages learners to ask a series of questions (E.S.C.A.P.E.) to determine whether information is accurate — or not. The site also features a downloadable bookmark or poster with the E.S.C.A.P.E. questions, and the bookmark is a handy size to keep in a notebook, on a desk, pinned on a bulletin board, or posted on the fridge. Family members can also practice consulting Snopes or another fact-checking site. The MediaTechParenting blog posts below to help get the conversation started.



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