Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes — and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data. Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.
If you use Google, take a few minutes to check out the Google Dashboard and look over a detailed digital footprint snapshot of your Google activities. Learning about digital footprints is an important 21st Century connected-world skill.
The Dashboard keeps track of everything — and I mean everything — that you do on Google. It’s a dynamic digital footprint collection. To sign in and examine your Gmail or Google Alertsis easy, and you can also check out the other features offered by Google such as Google Docs, Google Calendar, Blogger, or Google Reader (many more Google products are available and new ones become available on a regular basis).
Google Dashboard is an awesome connected-world teaching tool for 21st Century children at any age and for adults, because it makes a point — concretely — about the amount of information that Google accumulates on each of us. Many people are surprised, and a bit disconcerted, on a first visit, because the Dashboard depicts a good deal about each user.
Have you ever thought long enough about digital footprints to imagine how many digital tracks family members or students make in a day or two?
Early in the school year fifth graders and their parents kept a short diary, estimating the footprints in a range of categories and then returned to school with the results. Footprints were estimated for sending texts, banking, receiving texts, purchasing groceries, cell phone calls, online banking, web sites, online purchases, and about a dozen more categories.
Given the chance, kids can offer remarkable insight — good ideas for their parents to consider.
I’ve heard many kids reflect thoughtfully, and not so thoughtfully, on their parents’ digital skills. I often hear my students wonder aloud about why parents don’t always model the digital citizenship expectations that they want their children to learn and apply.
Below are the nine most common “I Wish” statements expressed over the past several years by digital children that I teach. Two of them, I’ll admit, were even mentioned to me by my daughter some years ago. Mea culpa…
Kids Wish Their Parents and Other Adults Would
Try to learn a lot more about computers in particular and technology in general.
Stop saying they don’t know much about technology (mom’s especially)
Not use Blackberries and phones at sports games and school events.
Don’t talk on the phone so much in the car.
Learn to play some of the kids’ online games.
Understand more about helping with searches on the Internet.
Understand how hard it is to learn the technology rules and regulations and not always threaten to take away technology access when there’s a problem.
Stop automatically saying that new things like Wikipedia are questionable.
I love my iPhone and iPad, and I cannot do many things without them. For children under 13, however, use time should be carefully monitored by each family. Kids today are playing independently with powerful devices, and they — the devices and the children — are not intended to interact in isolation and for long periods without adult supervision.
Just today I asked a group of device-savvy fifth graders, most around age 10, if they know anything about SnapChat, the app that deletes pictures in one to ten seconds (leaving plenty of time for a recipient with poor judgment to take a screenshot and save the photo). Just about every hand went up. During a lesson a few months ago I asked them how many of them know how to make a screenshot — and they can all do it in a lot less than ten seconds. Read my SnapChat review here.
Take some time to read these thoughtful and well-written pieces that address the challenges of parenting digital kids and offer solid guidance. They sum up just about everything a parent needs to know.
Collier examines the need for parents to build insightful and trusting relationships with their digital world children. She notes that we adults should think carefully about any decision to use secretive monitoring and instead consider recognizing the need for honesty and trust whenever we address the lives of children and adolescents who work and play in the connected world.
There’s no substitute for a parent being online, observing and adding his or her two cents when required. Yes, it is time-consuming — but it’s best to communicate openly by transparently monitoring children’s digital activities and modeling the trust and honesty that we want them to develop in their own lives. Perhaps, Collier muses, we are even making digital kids safer, since they are less likely to be seeking ways to hide out or at least take cover online.