How Parents Confront Digital Life Challenges

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-57-06-pmTake a few minutes to read When Tech is a Problem Child,  appearing in the New York Times on November 19, 2016.

Written by Bruce Feiler, the article describes how families go about addressing and solving the day-to-day digital challenges that occur in 21st Century life. Feller spent six weeks asking parents, via social media, to share their rules and strategies related to raising children in the digital world. He describes in some detail the parents’ ideas, including thoughts about mobile phones, homework, digital devices and bedtime, social media use, consequences, and how families go about setting up phone-free family time.

While soliciting answers to 20 questions, as Feller did, is not scientific research, he did gather some interesting information about the challenges of raising children and the conversations that occur between children and their parents in the 21st Century digital world. Moreover, the article begins and ends with delightful references to the well-known musical, The Music Man, and its song, Trouble in River City.

My favorite digital parenting idea, relayed by Feller, came from a family that adopted a strategy for keeping children focused during device-free activities. They told their children that if a device was picked up, the parents would get to see texts on that phone and read them aloud. Clever idea.

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The Screen Time Equation – Crafting Thoughtful Solutions to a Digital Life Dilemma

screen time

What is screen media?

Crafting screen time guidelines for all family members is a great back-to-school undertaking, but coming up with guidance that is fair and equitable requires family members to consider and answer a range of questions.

Devoting beginning-of-the-year time — at home and at school — to examine solutions to the screen time equation will help 21st Century  children find and understand answers to the most challenging question that so many of us ask, “What exactly is screen time?” To help get started the whole family can  listen to a radio program about screen time, a 2015 broadcast on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show.

Schools can support and collaborate with families by helping students understand the usefulness of non-screen activities, specifying clearly to parents and students the academic expectations for school digital devices at home, and explaining in detail what students are expected to do and use when they complete work online. Refocusing on multitasking (It’s not possible.) is also a good idea as well as stating the school’s commitment to student privacy.         Continue reading

Digital Kids’ Summer – Collaborative Projects & a Printable

** Please feel free to share this post with parents at your school
or parent group using this PDF. **

IMG_4257Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!

Summer 2016 is almost here. It’s a great time for family fun, outdoor activities, visiting museums and historical sites, and choosing from all sorts of camps and special programs. Problem is, many kids spend a lot of their summer vacation in front of screens, and it’s one of the hardest time of the year to focus on digital moderation.

With less frenetic schedules and no school, the summer months are a good time for parents to learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of kids’ 21st Century lives. So when school is out, plan to do some connected world exploring and learning together, concentrating on projects that can help family members — children and their parents — connect with interesting and meaningful work together. Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add some variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 10 family digital project summer suggestions — all activities require collaboration —  to consider for the upcoming summer vacation.

Ten Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Digital Devices & Parent-Teen Time Issues — New Research

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Click here to visit the Common Sense Media research page and sign in for a larger and higher quality image.

Check out the interesting new research just out from Common Sense Media about the issues and challenges when it comes to 21st Century digital kids and their mobile devices. The image depicts a range of statistics and device issues, collected via a poll of 1,200 parents and teens.

This infographic can be an excellent resource to use for family conversations about teens’ and children’s screen and digital device times (and adults’ times, too). It offers a range of information that can help parents discuss potential problems and concerns.

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Teach Children About Anonymity Before They Make Mistakes

childing typingAnonymity 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.

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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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A Positive Story for Younger Digital Kids: Meet the Von Awesome Family

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEAs parents and educators, we quickly come to understand how stories help young people learn.

Unfortunately when it comes to digital parenting and digital citizenship, we do not have many positive children’s stories — the kind you can sit down and read with a child. We know what we want children to learn as they grow-up and use more and more digital devices in a connected world. We are also gradually coming to understand that citizenship and digital citizenship are one and the same.

We need lots more stories that illustrate the way digital life should be lived — stories that we can share with 21st Century children when they are young.

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