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 to go through this sort of checklist — but the time spent now is nothing compared the time drain that occurs after your child experiences a connected world problem. It’s worth your time to consider the checklist now.
As 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.
If you want to help your kids or grandkids learn more history about interesting ways that women contributed to saving lives during World War II, look no farther than Top Secret Rosies, a PBS video that tells the story of the women who were a part of a secret project to figure our mathematically various trajectories of weapons during the war. Called female computers — that is people who compute — these women were recruited from all over the country to go to Philadelphia and work in secrecy at a special lab set up just for them.
With so many STEM-in-the-curriculum (STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math) discussions and the urgency to encourage 21st Century girls and young women to take more interest in science, math, and technology, it’s exciting to discover a resource that shares a story about women and their amazing mathematical achievements. Top Secret Rosies is a one-hour documentary, produced by LeAnn Erickson, a professor at Temple University tells the story.
Every Thanksgiving I write a poston each of my blogs listing the digital opportunities in my life for which I am thankful. In this age of constant worry about the various problems and challenges that technology presents for growing children, I like to remind myself that the connected world has given me and young people much to enrich our lives.
This Thanksgiving one more item will definitely be added to my list. StoryCorps, the storytelling feature that we listen to on National Public Radio (NPR), is featuring The 2015 Great Thanksgiving Listen. The goal is to:
… work with teachers and high school students across the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.
In his book Net Smart, Howard Rheingold writes that for any of us to become knowledgeable connected world users and citizens, each of us needs to develop and continually strengthen five areas of digital literacy. People who use the web wisely and with good results develop fundamental skill in five literacy areas — attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption of content.
As the lives of children, online and off, grow more complex by the day, we adults spend a good deal of our time helping them learn more about the lives they will live in a 21st Century world. We are accomplished at mentoring children in the parts of their lives that are offline, but often teachers and parents simply react to digital life problems rather than build fundamental digital literacy skills that will help children avoid problems. For kids to really be prepared to develop the five literacies that Rheingold describes, they need to build up a foundation of knowledge about the connected world environment.
How is it that children, pre-adolescents, and teens can understand how to use digital devices, consume digital culture at an early age, and even figure out digital device problems for their parents, but have only the barest knowledge about how to relate thoughtfully to people online, take complete advantage of digital resources, and solve problems rather than create them? The reason? We adults have so often put the cart before the horse. We give children their own personal devices or let them borrow ours — gadgets connect in various ways to the entire world, albeit different ones at different ages — and only gradually go about teaching the fundamental literacy aspects later on and especially when something goes wrong. Continue reading “Digital Literacy 101 for Kids, PreK -Grade 6: A Checklist”→
It’s back-to-school 2015, a time to list the many tasks we need to accomplish before the start of the new academic year. We think about school supplies, new clothes and shoes, new lunch boxes, and, of course, new digital devices and computers. We check off our lists as we go, getting our 21st Century children ready to return to school.
Yet back-to-school season is also a useful time for parents to list, consider, and articulate connected-life expectations, old and new, for the coming year. What do you want your children to do or not do? How do you expect them to behave when a friend encourages behavior that is not allowed at home?
Yes, once again it’s summer! To celebrate the season I’m writing specifically for the parents of digital kids — suggesting ways that parents can use this more relaxed time of year to learn more about their own digital footprints.
While some of the activities are similar to those in apost from last year, this beginning-of-the-summer blog post aims to help parents gain a greater understanding of digital footprints for themselves — and then share this increased knowledge in conversations with their children. The longer-term goal, of course, is to ensure that each child returns to school in the fall with more knowledge about the family’s digital profile, their own digital footprints, and privacy.
Below are some suggestions to help parents get started learning.
Google yourself. See what digital footprints others see when they Google your name oryour email address. Then go to the Dashboard, while you are logged in, and see how Google keeps track of your activities. Dashboard notes everything a person does on Google — from email to images to alerts to searches and much more. Once you finish up learning about your own digital trail, organize a family digital footprint party and help every member of the family go through the same steps.