It’s great fun to think about how technology improves our lives, especially given how much people worry about digital world problems. For me one of the best changes in our 21st Century lives has been the new and improved ways that I can listen to music, podcasts, and radio programs.
One of my Sonos wireless speakers
These days with our Sonos Play:1 wireless sound system, my family listens to a vastly expanded range of music, radio stations, podcasts, and much more. Tune speakers sit at strategic locations around the house, and though we still regularly listen to “old-fashioned” radios, our wireless system is gradually taking over because of its amazing sound quality. The first time we played music on one of our Sonos speakers we joked that it felt like the musicians were in the room with us.
Using the Sonos app, each Play:1 speaker — we now have four — is easily connected to our wi-fi network, and then it runs through a sound test to become familiar with its room. The app also allows us to group the speakers and play the same music throughout the house or keep them separate, thereby allowing any member of the family to listen to different media on the closest Play:1 — once each speaker played different music at the same time for people in each of the rooms. Perfect for any household with diverse listening tastes! Continue reading →
The minute a child gets that first web-connected mobile device, the adults in the family commit themselves to extended digital life “swimming lessons.”
Young swimmers become increasingly competent and skilled while at the same time needing adult support, supervision, and occasional intervention. Twenty-first Century digital natives require the same parental attention and guidance as they learn to operate safety and adroitly in the connected world waters. Swimming and connected-world activities, though they require long-term adult oversight, help children explore the world around them and gain confidence, learn new things and grow their abilities, learn to make good decisions and yes, avoid making bad ones. The key to their success is adult support.
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.
What can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids, with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online activities, get off to a good start at the beginning of the school year?
Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members.
To help you consider the issues in your 21st Century child’s digital life, and your own, use the this nine-item back-to-school digital parenting checklist to get started. Continue reading →
Anonymity presents digital kids with a complicated social obstacle — one they must confront and understand if they are to protect themselves from potential problems. Digital anonymity is not a friendly concept for growing children. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s downright dangerous, but app makers continue to offer the feature. For now these apps are a part of many digital kids’ daily lives, often negatively affecting their digital wellness.
No child with a connected device is immune from possible trouble caused by anonymity, because issues can arise in an instant, often as a part of routine online social interactions. Anonymous opportunities take advantage of kids’ developing brains, encouraging them to make public mistakes in judgment, and enabling young people, sometimes as young as third or fourth grade, to act and communicate with less and less restraint. A mistake made with an app’s anonymity feature can be hurtful or humiliating.
While most kids carefully follow the rules that parents and teachers set out — no names, addresses, telephone numbers, or other personal information — when it comes to the big privacy picture, it turns out that many children understand very little about their personal data, how it accumulates, and how it affects privacy. (Check out my privacy links at the end of this post.)
Thus we need an alternate privacy teaching strategy that helps 21st Century kids — all ages really — understand how their digital-world data accumulates — even when users observe the all-important safety rules.
A recent study, about parents, children and the technology rules that families adopt will be a terrific resource for schools and parent groups to share. Most parts of the research paper are fairly easy to read as are two articles, one from the University of Washington and the other from the University of Michigan. The research findings, with an extra focus on children’s expectations, are full of discoveries and observations that schools may want to share, almost word for word, with the parents of digital kids.
Alexis Hiniker and Julie A. Kientz at the University of Washington and Sarita Y. Schoenebeck at the University of Michigan conducted the study about digital life rules that parents make and enforce and the expectations that digital kids and their parents have of one another. A National Science Foundation research grant supported the academic work.
Digital Citizenship Principal for Kids
Interestingly, a few years ago I ask my students, after a year of working together, what messages they would give to their parents about the digital world and their parents’ roles. The answers these young people wrote down were so remarkable that I shared the children’s comments in a September 2013 blog post, and I’ve also included some of the posters that my students designed graphic depictions of the digital rules-of-the-roadthat parents and teachers expect them to uphold. Continue reading →