Can You & Your Kids Balance Life With So Much Social Media & Tech?

Image from Pixabay.

Take a few minutes to read Five Ways Parents Can Help Kids Balance Social Media With the Real World, appearing in the July 11, 2017 Washington Post.

Written by Adrienne Wichard-Edds, the Post article offers common sense suggestion that parents can use to establish a sense of balance between digital endeavors and the rest of a family’s activities. Most of the ideas come from Ana Homayoun’s, Social Media Wellness:  Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World.                     Continue reading

Google Dashboard: A Connected-World Teaching Tool for All Ages

A screen show from the Google Dashboard.

A screen shot from the Google Dashboard.

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 Alerts is 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.

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How Many Digital Footprints Does Your Family Make?

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.12.51 PMHave 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.

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Advice from Digital Kids to Parents

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.

I wish my parents wouldBelow 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

  1. Try to learn a lot more about computers in particular and technology in general.
  2. Stop saying they don’t know much about technology (mom’s especially)
  3. Not use Blackberries and phones at sports games and school events.
  4. Don’t talk on the phone so much in the car.
  5. Learn to play some of the kids’ online games.
  6. Understand more about helping with searches on the Internet.
  7. 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.
  8. Stop automatically saying that new things like Wikipedia are questionable.
  9. Try not to act dumb about technology. Even if you don’t understand something, please act like you want to learn new things.        Continue reading

9 Suggestions to Help Families Think About Digital Device Moderation

Designed using images from the Apple website.

Designed using images from the Apple website.

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.

An article that provides food for thought, Your Phone Verses Your Heart, appeared in the March 23, 2013 New York Times. Also, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics media resources — the pediatricians are making recommendations because they know what they are talking about.

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 judgement to take a screen shot 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.

A Few Social Media Supervision Suggestions            Continue reading

Great Digital Parenting Blog Posts at Net Family News

When I finished reading Anne Collier’s two Net Family News posts, The Trust Factor in Parenting Online Kids and Parenting or (Digital) Public Humiliation, I leaned back to process all of the content in these two short articles. “Well done!” I thought.

trust parents kids 2Take 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.

Best Quote in Anne Collier’s Posts  (… but there are many other good ones so check out these articles and others at Net Family News.) Continue reading

Mom Writes Phone Contract for Middle School Son

cell phone vocab  image wordfoto

This cell phone vocabulary image created with one of my pictures and the app Wordfoto.

Note: Please check out my Digital Contracts and and Agreements Page if you want to learn more about this topic.

Take a look at a terrific letter about cell phone conduct, appropriately written for a middle or high school age student. In a Huffington Post article, To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love, Janet Burley Hoffman shares a mobile phone contract that she wrote for her son after giving him a cell phone for Christmas. The post also includes a link to a video of Hoffman and her son appearing on “Good Morning America.”

This piece is cleverly written, focusing on cell phone issues that worry many parents of pre-adolescent and adolescent children. Hoffman’s contract addresses, in non-lecture style, the concerns that arise especially as parents watch their children using digital devices.

Last fall, my post, So You Want a Family Digital Device Contract or Agreement, included links to a broad range of web resources that can help parents set up contracts or agreements with their digital kids.

Interesting Ideas that Janet Burley Hoffman Incorporated into This Contract Continue reading