Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem for Kids With New Digital Devices

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Click here to read my second poem about kids’ advice to parents.

Since it’s National Poetry Month, I decided to write a few amusing verses about digital kids and the connected world. You are welcome to attach this poem, with attribution, to any new device that a member of your family receives. Enjoy!

An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem PDF

Congrats on acquiring a new mobile device,
Have fun working and playing, but here’s some advice.
With your friends or relations who, like you, love the web
You’ll connect with so much, you’ll feel like a celeb!

But remember! When you work, play, or hangout online,
You must understand when you need to decline.
Kids often forget while using devices
That it’s easy to get caught in another kid’s vices.

It’s great fun to partake of apps, websites, and more,
Because you and your friends mostly do know the score.
You’re connected, you’re sharing – and that’s really great!
But please know that you’ll make more than one big mistake.                        Continue reading

Without Moderation & Mindfulness Tech Can Diminish Our Personal Lives

Does too much technology, with our smart phones especially,os7iphone-2 interfere with the quality and the personal connections in our lives? Do we concentrate less because of the unceasing demands of our digital devices?

I’ve just finished reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s December 2016 article, Technology is Diminishing Us, and he makes thoughtful points about how, despite the good things that 21st Century digital devices bring to our lives, they can also diminish our daily emotional responses and contemplative experiences. The author reflects, with a personal emphasis, on digital distractions that increasingly disrupt of face-to-face communication, and his ideas connect well with the conclusions that Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor Sherry Turkle shares in her books Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversations, also well worth reading.

Foer, whose essay appeared in The Guardian, notes that early on technological innovations aimed to help people more easily accomplish daily life tasks — telephones replaced letters, answering machines supplemented phone calls, email made communication even easier, and texting easier still. Each change or invention sought to help people communicate more efficiently and effectively (in theory). Yet all this ease of use comes with caveats. The devices that connect us to others almost all of the time and to unlimited information whenever we seek it, have become electronic busybodies, obsessively notifying, alerting, locating, and suggesting (even when we try to turn many of the features off) as we attempt to concentrate, interact with others, and get things done. Most of us do little to stop these interruptions.                       Continue reading

Sleeping Without a Mobile Device Nearby — My Discoveries

bedsideGoing to sleep has sometimes been challenging because have a difficult time relaxing and settling down. My iPhone was complicating bedtime and probably my sleep. So about a month ago, a few weeks before New Year 2017, I separated my iPhone from my bedside, charging it about 20 feet away in a smaller room. I keep a book where my iPhone used to charge and read at least a few pages before bed.

The results after just four weeks have been remarkable. I go to sleep more easily and stay asleep because I am not awakened by dings or the phone suddenly lighting up. I don’t even get up as often in the middle of the night, and at least a few times I’ve slept straight through for five or more hours. According to my Fitbit, my restless periods have decreased by half on most nights, though that took a couple of weeks to occur. Also, I’ve finally stopped glancing in the direction of the iPhone, because it’s not there! Continue reading

10 Digital Wellness Thoughts to Consider

Will new devices, robots and other items that connect to the Internet with your wifi be arriving in your home during this 2016 holiday season? If so, check out this post about maintaining digital wellness in your family.

Media! Tech! Parenting!

Digital WellnessThese days everyone talks about personal wellness — those steps that people need to take to remain physically and mentally healthy and strong. But what about digital wellness? Poor digital health affects not only our connected lives, but also our physical and mental well-being.

Digital wellness is about fine-tuning the 21st Century skills that we use to work and play in a connected world, and it also involves understanding number of common myths about the nature of online life. Helping family members take steps to develop digital wellness habits can challenge parents, mainly because many children, pre-adolescents, and teens appear to be far more advanced online consumers than their parents. Underneath the veneer of digital native expertise, however, are a fair number of information gaps.             

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After Buying a Device & Before Giving It to Kids — 2016 Update

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My new iPhone, purchased in early 2016.

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. This list gives parents a head start, identifying challenges, offering explanations, anticipating problems, and most importantly, setting the stage for responsible and respectful use of exciting but extraordinarily powerful devices.

The time adults spend preparing for new devices that enter a family’s life is well spent and spending that time up front  may well prevent a huge time drain later on after a your child experiences a connected world problem. Parents are simultaneously guides, limits setters, and lifeguards, whether or not they know as much about digital life as their children.

The MediaTechParenting 2016
         Digital Parents’ Holiday and Beyond Checklist        

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Incorporating 21st Century Vocabulary Words Into the Conversation & the Curriculum

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Check out all the posts in this series and watch for new ones.

To become successful, intelligent, and mindful 21st Century learners, young people need to understand and apply a small group of vocabulary words that now have expanded digital world meanings.

Parents may want to use and talk about these words in conversation as often as possible. Teachers should consciously incorporate them into the curriculum, because the vocabulary knowledge provides young learners with tools that help them consume information more effectively.

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21 Century Vocabulary Words

As young preadolescents and teens become more comfortable with these words and increasingly able at applying the conceptual meanings they may also gain skill at discerning and then avoiding many of the digital world problems and pitfalls that children encounter.

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