On Digital Parenting Fear, Part #2 – We Must Know More About Kids’ Digital Lives

fear-riskIn 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.

Cybertheives PM

For me the week reinforced the importance of parents understanding what their children are up to on digital devices. It’s a serious responsibility, it requires enormous time and energy, and we cannot hire outside experts to do it for us. The work requires every parenting skill that we’ve ever developed and more, and if you are not up to it you need to consult a parent education organization, such as the Parenting Encouragement Program (PEP) in my area, that offers training to parents. Continue reading

Let’s Teach Children How to Comment

Knowing how to write a comment that is appropriate for different online settings is a critical literacy skill for 21st Century children (and also for many of their parents). Too often young comment writers end up fervently wishing they had thought a bit more about what they posted.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.53.29 PMEducators and parents need to pay serious attention to the commenting lives of kids. While the World Wide Web and social media offer young children, pre-adolescents, and teens nearly unlimited opportunities to comment and express their opinions, problems occur when young people do not possess the impulse control skills for such unrestricted access.                             Continue reading

Pinterest: A Digital Passport to the World of Images

If you are the parent of a 21st Century digital kid, and you want to try something new in the turbulent, always-changing social media world, you might explore Pinterest —  a social media site that helps people accomplish an old activity in a new and better way.

Pinterest

Visit Pinterest!

In the “olden days” people spent time looking through magazines and catalogs, identifying images such as the best looking clothes, interesting plants, comfortable shoes, or pictures with ideas for an upcoming home construction project. An individual cut out the image and put it into a folder (or a pile). I used to have folders filled with images on all sorts of topics, waiting for me to consult, and I used them from time-to-time. Now Pinterest makes this process digital.

Pinterest, a social media sharing site, allows users to collect and store digitized images from all over the web, along with the image links, and it offers a way organize the pictures into digital folders — Pinterest calls them boards. When a person searches for and finds a useful image, it’s pinned along with its web link into a board’s collection. An individual can also discover, collect, and pin web images from outside of Pinterest.            Continue reading

Sharenting? Kids Are Beginning to Notice

Two years ago, for the first time, students took me aside to wonder aloud how to go about asking their parents not to share photos. It happened again last year when a child commented about baby photos that were especially embarrassing.

What is charting?

What is sharenting?

All of this adult sharing of kids’ images and information is called “sharenting.” A fair number of people, including researchers, are wondering about the effect that too much sharenting has on kids.

A few months ago researchers at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conducted a survey on the subject. The hospital’s National Poll on Children’s Health investigates topics several times a year, polling adults in around 2000 randomly selected, nationally representative households, about significant health issues that relate to children. In March the  hospital announced the results of a November-December 2014 poll that asked 21st Century parents a range of questions about how they use social media to gain knowledge about parenting on social media as well as how they share information about their children.

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So What Happens to Social Media Data? Read the Terms of Service!

unnamedI am preparing to make a presentation to a group of well-informed teens at a school. In the process, I’ve reread the terms of service at a range of social media sites to remind myself about what can potentially happen to the pictures, comments, videos, and other content that we share on social media.

Social media is a part of life in today’s 21st Century world. Rather than wringing our hands about these apps, and the things that can go wrong, it’s a far better strategy for adults to proactively learn about social media, know what their digital children are using, and help them understand the power of social media apps. Moreover, every social media user — young and old — needs to develop strategies to use when things have the potential to go wrong.

Check out the terms of service for your favorite social media site. What do you think these policies mean for the pre-adolescents or teens in your life? The social media companies design these statements — albeit long documents — to make it clear what happens and what does not. What can you do to ensure that your child develops the necessary tools and strategies to think carefully about what content to post and share and what content to avoid sharing? Ongoing conversations about living in the digital world are are a critical part of family life.

Each of the clips is from one of the social media websites, and I’ve added a link to each site’s complete  terms of service document.  Most of the companies want us to understand these documents.

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Social Media Week? What a Great Idea for Schools!

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 11.37.21 AMJust imagine what we could teach our 21st Century students and ourselves if, together with students, we organized social media weeks (or days) with presentations, demonstrations, and talks about all aspects of social networking — what’s good, what’s not so good, and what can be done with social media to make our lives better?

More  importantly, what if in the process, we educators and some of our social-media-savvy parents demonstrated to students that we understand the role that social media plays in all of our lives while also emphasizing the need to manage and curate our profiles?

Social Media Weeks seek to do just that. The mission of social media week events is to promote a discussion about our always-connected lives, examining how things have changed, how to make the world a better place, and perhaps most importantly, how to learn from our mistakes. Online conferences, offline events, lectures, and dialogues are scheduled  during four official social media weeks, held in major cities around the world.    Continue reading

Getting to Know Pinterest: A Parent’s Guide

Pinterest digitizes image collecting, the non-digital activity that lots of us have been doing for years. In a sense Pinterest offers a 21st Century way to bookmark and collect images instead of accumulating pieces of paper. I’m loving it!

Visit Pinterest.

Many people spend time looking through magazines and catalogs, identifying images such as the best looking clothes, interesting plants, comfortable shoes, or pictures with ideas for an upcoming home construction project. An individual cuts out (or tears out) the image and puts it into a folder. I used to have folders (and more folders) filled with images on all sorts of topics, waiting for me to consult. And I used them from time-to-time, especially at the beginning of a project.

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