Posted in family conversations, healthy media images, media literacy, parent child conversations, parent education, resources to read, risky behavior

Conversations About Skins from Common Sense Media

As usual, Common Sense Media is right on top of the latest media/television family dilemma, and the website has published a short piece to help parents talk with their teenage children about the MTV program, Skins. In Tough Talk: How Parents Can Use MTV’S Skins As a Jumping Off Point, Liz Perle writes, “MTV’s teen drama Skins (a remake of the even edgier British series) showcases every behavior that keeps parents of teenagers up at night.” Perle suggests conversation pointers that can help parents begin conversations on these all too nerve-wracking topics. While these subjects keep parents in a perpetual state of jitters, teenagers confront many of the issues the issues on a daily basis — though honestly the show itself seems overly contrived. Check out the article.

The point is – and this is a Common Sense Media mantra (about page) — no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be, the most important thing is to work hard to keep the dialogue going throughout the challenging teenage years. The conversations, even if they don’t go as smoothly as a parent wishes, nevertheless help adolescent kids think about making better choices.

Posted in digital parenting, great sites for students, homework, Internet Public Library, parents and technology, research on the web, resources to read, teens and technology

Internet Public Library — Bookmark It!

Parents and teachers are always on the hunt for a reliable Internet site that children can visit time after time and be certain of the quality and reliability of the content. The Internet Public Library (ipl2) fits the bill, a resource that is just as good for adults as it is for children. With a motto of “Information You Can Trust” the IPL2 is a searchable, subject-categorized directory of authoritative websites with links to online texts, newspapers, and other resources. Librarians review everything in the collection.

What to Check Out at the Internet Public Library Continue reading “Internet Public Library — Bookmark It!”

Posted in digital parenting, generating content, parents and technology, research on the web, resources to read

Parents (and Teachers) Ask Why Wikipedia?

“Why use Wikipedia?” adults often ask. What they are really asking is, “Should my kids use Wikipedia, and is it a real reference?” For adults who grew up in the age of multiple volumes of well-documented references, it’s hard to wrap our minds around Wikipedia — and even harder to use it.

Digital natives, however, consult Wikipedia all the time, and the number of users and the content is increasing. According to a 2006 review in School Library Journal, “The popular online encyclopedia, whose entries are written and edited by any user, may inspire trepidation, even fear, yet the behemoth is impossible to ignore.” So just who is writing for Wikipedia? A March 2010 MSNBC article Who Writes Wikipedia, describes a research project that aimed to develop profiles of writers who contribute content.

Continue reading “Parents (and Teachers) Ask Why Wikipedia?”

Posted in cell phones, parents and technology, resources to read

David Pogue’s Review of the Newest iPods

You may be ask by at least one of your children, or maybe a spouse or relative, to buy one of the new tiny and very colorful iPods.

Click to go to the Apple iPod page.

Read David Pogue’s Personal Tech post in the September 10, 2010 New York Times. His post, In Season 9, iPods Still Get High Ratings, describes the many positives of the newly released iPod model,  and he also makes a few other observations. Watch Pogue’s clever videocast as well (after the commercial).

David Pogue’s reviews are useful and even inspiring. Links on the Personal Tech site take readers the Gadgetwise blog with reviews, by a variety of reporters, on digital cameras, cell phones, camcorders, and much more.

Keep an eye out for Pogue’s other short, and very entertaining videocasts, all posted at the Times. They can also be downloaded as podcasts from iTunes.

Posted in acceptable use, digital citizenship, digital parenting, parent education, parents and technology, resources to read

Check Out Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit advocacy organization designed for families, offers trustworthy information, media evaluations, and all sort of online tools to help  parents, kids, and educators become more sophisticated consumers. Think of Common Sense Media as an information portal rather than a mere website. Parents, no matter the age of children in the family, can consult the organization’s web  site for age appropriate information about movies, current media events, digital citizenship advice, and much more. A separate part of the website provides information for educators and schools. Common Sense Media is  non-partisan, and you can learn more at the Common Sense Media FAQ.

A few of the organizational core beliefs (others can be found at the website) include: Continue reading “Check Out Common Sense Media”

Posted in digital citizenship, digital parenting, parents and technology, resources to read

Back-to-School Digital Reading Series for Parents

As summer 2010 moves swiftly along, we begin thinking, albeit incrementally, about back-to-school preparations.

In addition to traditional preparations — school supplies, lunch boxes, schedules, new shoes and clothes — we often use this time of year to update our digital lives, purchasing new computers, updating Internet access in our homes, and deciding whether or not to purchase cell phones other gadgets (MP3 players, iTouch, iPad) for our children.

Parents and teachers who have been through many back-to-school cycles know that some year when school begins, we unexpectedly become acquainted with new types of digital activities, discovering things that our children have known about all summer long. A few years ago Facebook arrived on the scene in just this way. While the school year does not always begin with digital surprises, experience tells us that, more often than not, a new digital activity or concern arrives on our radar screen — that’s the adult radar — at the beginning of the school year.

So to level the playing field between now and early September, I will post regular links to back-to-school parent “reading assignments.”

Continue reading “Back-to-School Digital Reading Series for Parents”

Posted in acceptable use, cell phones, parents and technology, resources to read

A Cell Phone is Fun, but It’s Not a Toy

Even though most children now have cell phones, and while these devices seem like a necessary accessory for pre-teens and adolescents, parents should remind their children — on a regular basis — that cell phones are not toys. Mobile phones are sophisticated communication tools that also happen to entertain in many ways. They are fun to use, however, all family members need to learn as much as possible about the power of cell phones. The 2009 document Cell Phone Guide for Families With Children: Everything You Need to Know, written by Carnegie Mellon University’s My Secure Cyberspace, provides comprehensive information on cell phones. Another document from the same source is Should Your Child Have a Cell Phone?

A gadget orientation is critical. Before handing over a new mobile phone to a child, take the time to go over general guidelines and expectations. Review these expectations regularly, and update them each time a child’s gets a phone upgrade. Parents may also consider setting up a cell phone contract that spells out how a cell phone expectations and possible consequences when a child breaks the rules.

Continue reading “A Cell Phone is Fun, but It’s Not a Toy”