After nine years of blogging at MediaTechParenting, I’ve written posts about kids, technology, parenting, screen time, citizenship, 21st Century life, digital devices — well you get the idea. Now a New York Times Smarter Living published report summarizes a good deal of what I’ve been writing about in a parents’ guide to raising and guiding kids in the digital world.
How (and When) to Limit Kids’ Tech Use by Melanie Pinola (@MelaniePinola) includes just about everything a digital age parent needs to know. The comprehensive and well-packaged guide overflows with information. Keep it nearby, whether your child is a new baby, a teenager, or any age in between.
Videos are everywhere on social media, but quite a few that we view on various sites are doctored and edited, often seeking to muck up the facts. Understanding how to evaluate and identify red flags in a video is now a critical 21st Century media literacy skill that everyone — parents, students, and educators — needs to acquire.
Recently the staff at Washington Post Fact Checker created a useful teaching and learning tool that can help all of us — young people and adults — understand more about today’s video landscape.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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