In our connected world unfamiliar activities make adults worry about kids, and violent and exploitative events, some connected to the digital world, make us fear for our children’s safety. This past week two events, a 13-year-old’s ruthless murder that was associated with online app interactions and a Wall Street Journal article, Cyberthieves Have a New Target: Children, made many of us wonder, once again, whether the digital world is degrading the quality of our lives.
When we teach and interact with digital kids about their hyper-connected lives, I wish we could de-emphasize the fear factor and re-emphasize education and understanding, helping young users become stronger digital world problem-solvers. While monitoring, learning, and guiding, we also need to be sure to help kids, develop the antennae to identify and avoid a range of online problems — not just the big ones.
A day doesn’t go by without hearing an adult comment about children’s digital world risks, and invariably these conversations focus on predators, strangers, pornography, cyber-bullying and even the death of a child. In the area where I live, a grievous and tragic event is unfolding as I edit this post.
My concern as an educator is that my students, without fail, noted how important it was to be aware of the frightening situations. Their deep concern about potentially horrible Internet encounters — events that do not occur nearly as often as the mainstream media imply — obscured for many of them, the importance of many other interactive problems that happen on a daily basis to digital kids — misjudgments, miscommunications, and daily social events gone awry. It’s these problems, often the result of minor online misjudgments or typically adolescent missteps that regularly cause public humiliation and embarrassment, and such events wreak havoc on a child’s and a family’s daily life. Continue reading “On Digital Parenting Fear, Part #1 – What Risks Should We Worry About the Most?”→
In a connected world, where even a nuanced word association can invite unfortunate behavior, 21st Century parents need to keep an eye on the online names that children use. The easiest solution is to use a word, nickname, or a middle name, perhaps paired with numbers at the beginning or end. Many years ago I used 29Marti1607, a name that attracted little attention except once when someone asked me if my ancestors had lived in colonial Jamestown (settled in 1607).
Children experiment with edgy screen names as one way to look and feel cool, and as they get older their choices often push limits, unintentionally drawing attention. A suggestive name in any number of categories can encourage the people who interact with your child to behave impulsively — even friends. Parents need to worry less about strangers seeing and using a screen name and more about a 21st Century kid using a screen name that contributes in some way to humiliating or embarrassing behavior. Continue reading “5 Screen Name Tips for Digital Parents”→
If you worry about sexting, your child, and even the friends of your children, take a few minutes to read a Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) digital parenting brief, Sexting: Felony or Flirting?This article fills in a lot of blanks for concerned parents who observe adolescents treating the sexting issues with almost casual regard.
The piece, by FOSI International Policy Manager, Emma Morris, offers broad information and excellent advice for the parents of digital kids, including overviews of recent news stories, research, and court cases.
I sometimes observe a Facebook friend sharing or unknowingly posting a scam as often as once a day.
According to a post on Techlicious, scammers continue to find victims on Facebook. While Facebook continues to work against these scams, the sheer number of users on Facebook (one billion) encourages unscrupulous people to continue to seek victims.
The December 4, 2012 post by Techlicious writer, Christina DesMarais, lists six of the most prevalent scams — which often masquerade as apps — that Facebook users may encounter, all offering services that may catch a users’ fancy (or conscience).
I’ve just finished re-reading The Price of Privilege, a 2008 book by Madeline Levine. Last week at a professional development event at my school, I heard Dr. Levine speak, while taking nearly three pages of notes and recalling some of the parenting strategies my husband and I used when our daughter, now out of graduate school, was in middle and high school.
Almost every concern that Dr. Levine raised — perfectionism, discontent, and insecurity — is familiar after years of parenting and teaching. I especially like her descriptions of effective parenting. Most importantly, when I read her book four years ago and reread it again last week, I thought about sleep and how much of a priority it needs to be for parents and children.
After the lecture my husband and I thought back to our daughter’s middle and high school years, considering all of the things we did well or could have done better. In the process we remembered the emphasis our family placed on getting enough sleep and eliminating computer screens each evening — sometimes to our daughter’s chagrin. Continue reading “Kids, Parenting, Gadgets, and Sleep…”→
Parents need to be vigilant about the amount of sleep their children get each night. In fact everyone in a family needs to be aware that pre-bedtime gadget habits may decrease the quality of nighttime sleep.
Part of the problem is that people stare at very bright screens just before bed or go to bed with glowing screens surrounding them. Another issue is that people, including adolescents and teens, leave devices on at night while they are sleeping so phone calls and text messages often interrupt sleep. This is risky behavior for everyone, but especially for adolescents who need sleep to learn effectively and grow.