Over the course of a school year I often chat with adults about their digital kids. Most parents are enthusiastic, perhaps even astounded about the digital changes that occur every day in their lives. Yet, they also admit to feeling confused, worried, and even a bit befuddled. Often I find parents reflecting on how committed parents — who understand the importance of these digital changes — are supposed to keep track of the constantly changing digital landscape?
As a 22 year veteran in the educational technology world, I like to sift through articles, seek out references and discover resources that can help people — especially the parents of my students — understand more about the digital world. I read articles, watch videos, listen to stories, and keep an eye out for interesting research. It makes sense to share them on a blog. When I think about a post, I ask the question, “If I were a parent of a digital kid, what might I want to learn about?”
Any time a child receives a new digital device, parents need to update or introduce a digital gadget action plan — something akin to the rules-of-the road that are so critical to new teenage drivers. Flashy new smartphones, iPads, iPod Touches, music players, computers, laptops, notebooks, and video games — most connected in some way to the exciting, but rough and tumble world of the Internet — require parents to focus just as intently as they do on driving lessons. Sometime during the first week of gadget ownership, and especially before school vacation ends, sit down with your child and go over the expectations in your action plan.
Even as a youngster thrills to the capabilities of a new device, the potential for digital mistakes and judgment errors exists. A short, sarcastic comment or text can be perceived as cyber-bullying when it reaches its destination. A game can be played online with someone who is more interested in your child than the game. A couple of less than thoughtful words, sent to one person, can be forwarded easily and embarrassingly to many others. The right time to talk about acceptable use and intention versus consequence is when the device is new.
A digital action plan — an agreement, contract, or list of guidelines between you and your child — anticipates potential issues and lays out specific expectations that will arise when a youngster uses a digital device in the wider, less supervised, world.
Currently, a conversation about screen time is occurring on my area listserv. It’s interesting to read various points of view. Some people feel that various apps designed to limit screen time and other digital activities are the way to go. Others point to need to be hands-on about contracts, agreements, and digital rules of the road. Almost everyone seems to be frustrated about defining the line between schoolwork and recreational screen times. Twenty-first Century digital parenting never lacks for challenges!
At the beginning of the school year, what can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids — with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online endeavors — get off to a good start?
Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes, and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members and working together to set up a family media plan that works for each person in the family.
Below are a few issues for parents and educators to consider as they seek to maintain quality in kids’ 21st Century digital lives during the 2019-2020 school year. Raising strong and competent digital citizens requires teamwork and immense effort — at home and at school.
Yesterday in the grocery store check-out line three parents chatted about the devices their children take back and forth to school. When you are cooling your heels waiting to pay for the food in your shopping cart, it is difficult not to listen to the various conversations occurring around you.
Essentially the parents asked one another how they were monitoring what their middle school children do on their laptops during homework time. All three adults sensed that while their kids were working on their homework they were also engaged with other apps (like social media!). When they inquired, their offspring always said they were doing school work. The parents weren’t so sure. Continue reading “Who’s in Charge of that Laptop or Digital Device from School?”→