Let’s Also Think About Grown-up’s Screen Time

Mid-morning coffee with an iPad.

Mid-morning coffee with an iPad.

With so much conversation about screen time for kids of all ages, it’s also useful think and talk about adults’ screen time. Adults model, but not always well, screen time habits for the young people in their families. When asked, most 21st Century children can share all sorts of stories about how much time their parents spends on their devices, even at inappropriate or inopportune times.

In his New York Magazine article, I Used to Be a Human Being, writer and contemporary thinker Andrew Sullivan contemplates the overwhelming “full immersion” that he and many adults experience with the online world.

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Sharenting? A Child’s Digital Future Requires Careful Consideration Today

It was so much easier when we shared in photo albums!

It was so much easier when we shared in photo albums!

I’ve often written about sharenting — defined as digital age parents sharing their 21st Century kids’ photos, stories, and information via Facebook, blogs, and other public online social media.

If you are mulling over the sharenting topic and want more guidance and perspective, take a few minutes to read a just-published article over at Sonya Livingstone’s Parenting for a Digital Future blog. The article, written by Alicia Blum-Ross, Where and When Does a Parent’s Right to Share End Online?, discusses the ways that bloggers who are also parents think about sharing information online and the “digital dilemma” that they experience. Blum-Ross also explores how these parents consider the future that their children will experience while growing up and examining the digital information about themselves.

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After Buying a Device & Before Giving It to Kids: What to Do

I’m getting a new iPhone 6s!

I’m getting a new iPhone 6s!

Every 21st Century parent needs a holiday digital parenting checklist that describes the tasks to accomplish between purchasing a new digital device and watching a child gleefully unwrap it. A list gives parents a head start, helping them understand challenges, set explanations and guidelines, anticipate problems, and most importantly, set the stage for responsible and respectful use of extraordinarily powerful devices.

Many parents I speak with point out how little time they have go through this sort of checklist — but the time spent now is nothing compared the the time drain that occurs after a your child experiences a connected world problem. It’s worth your time to consider the checklist now.

The MediaTechParenting 2015
         Digital Parents’ Holiday and Beyond Checklist        

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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

Needed: Digital Rules-of-the-Road for Kids’ New Smart Devices

made_at_www.txt2pic.comAfter the December holidays, lots of digital kids will begin using new handheld devices, but as these new gadgets come out of their boxes, parents need to update or introduce a family digital device action plan. A family’s plan is similar to the rules-of-the road guide that is so critical to new drivers.

These days most flashy new smartphones, iPads, tablets, music players, computers, laptops, notebooks, and video games are connected to the exciting, but rough and tumble world of the Internet, and much of the time these devices are used in places where adults are not present. So sometime during the first week of gadget ownership – or better yet, as the devices come out of their boxes – parents and children need to sit together and review digital behavior and expectations.

To help come up with your expectations, check out a comprehensive list of Internet sites with information about family digital life contracts and agreements. Many parents include these agreements in the box so the conversation begins as soon as a child opens the gift.                               Continue reading

Getting Your Child a Cell Phone This Summer? Read This First!

It’s summer 2013…

…and lots of families will soon purchase a new mobile phone for a fifth, sixth, or seventh grade child.

cell phoneRemember, however, you are not just handing over a telephone. A child is getting a mini-computer — a digital device  that takes pictures, shares locations, communicates via text, e-mail, and phone calls, and easily installs apps that connect in all sorts of other ways. A new cell phone networks your child in nearly unlimited ways to the entire world, and most of what he or she sends on the web via cell phone will never be deleted.

Before handing over the new mobile device, 21st Century parents need to think about how they want digital kids to use their new prized possessions and also about what they don’t want children to do.

Adults can be specific and clear about what is acceptable by setting up a cell phone user contract. Use an agreement word-for-word from the list of links on this blog. Or copy one of the contracts as a template and write a more personalized version that is appropriate for your family. Today’s kids are 21st Century learners, eager to use and explore the digital world — a great way to be — but parents need to set clear expectations that help to ensure that a child explores and experiments as much as possible without humiliation and  embarrassment.            Continue reading

SnapChat: Instantly Deletable Images? Sort of…

Snapchat: the free mobile app that promotes itself as a disappearing act. Parents and educators need to know just enough to understand its attraction to children and adolescents and the potential problems that may occur

snapchat2

Teens and, yes, some tweens are now playing with Snapchat because it’s designed to make pictures disappear at their destination — in ten seconds or less.

I’ve tried to use the app, and pictures really do disappear. Voilà! The content is gone. So does this mean a child (or an adult) can go ahead and send all sorts of pictures?

Well, not exactly. Read A Warning about SnapChat, Teenagers, and Online Photo Sharing, appearing on February 11, 2013 over at the Forbes website.

After downloading and installing the Snapchat app on a mobile phone, a user chooses a picture, text, or drawing and decides how long to allow the a picture to reside on the recipient’s screen — anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds. For Snapchat to work the sender must trust that the recipient will allow the picture to delete and that the recipient will be trustworthy and respect the wishes of the sender. Any user is supposed to be 13 or older.

So yes, the content does disappear, but even a picture residing for just few seconds gives an unreliable recipient enough time to take a quick screen shot, preserving the image. Read this April 10, 2013 New Yorker article, Delete This Picture When You’re Done, by Matt Buchanan, who points out that the Snapchat site is handling over 60 million images a day. Another informative article is SnapChat: Sexting Tool or Next Instagram, a CNN report by Doug Gross.      Continue reading