Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Privacy: When Will They Ever Learn?

Uploaded by Mancala at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

What will it take to make adolescents and teens understand that what they do just about anywhere is not private — even if it’s digital and feels like a limited number of others will know? Perhaps we are about to find out.

Harvard University recently rescinded acceptances from ten or more incoming students who formed a “private” Facebook page and traded sexually explicit and disgusting memes about kids, women, and people of color. Putting aside the loathsome behavior — just for a moment — why on earth would these young people consider any Facebook group or any other online group to be private, even if it has private in its name?

Crimson reporter Hannah Natanson writes:

In the group students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups…

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An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem for Kids With New Digital Devices

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Click here to read my second poem about kids’ advice to parents.

Since it’s National Poetry Month, I decided to write a few amusing verses about digital kids and the connected world. You are welcome to attach this poem, with attribution, to any new device that a member of your family receives. Enjoy!

An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem PDF

Congrats on acquiring a new mobile device,
Have fun working and playing, but here’s some advice.
With your friends or relations who, like you, love the web
You’ll connect with so much, you’ll feel like a celeb!

But remember! When you work, play, or hangout online,
You must understand when you need to decline.
Kids often forget while using devices
That it’s easy to get caught in another kid’s vices.

It’s great fun to partake of apps, websites, and more,
Because you and your friends mostly do know the score.
You’re connected, you’re sharing – and that’s really great!
But please know that you’ll make more than one big mistake.                        Continue reading

Your Phone Knows a Lot About You: Even When You Think You’ve Secured It

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-10-49-13-amThose of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.

Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?, Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.

Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.

Check it out.

 

No-Tech Zones Enrich a Child’s Life — and the Family’s

You might want to read 5 No-Phone Zones for Parents and Kids Alike, a January 2017 New York Times article.

screen-shot-2015-04-06-at-8-36-54-pm-e1428367741259Written by Perry Klass, M.D., a pediatrician and long-time writer, the Times article reminds  parents to put down their phones when they interact with their 21st Century children, and it emphasizes the importance of any time that a child spends away from digital devices.

Despite the wonders and access that our mobile phones and other connected world devices bring to our lives, screen-free time is essential in a child’s life as well as for an adult. Klass suggests five phone-free times that she considers sacred, though she points out that she is not always successful in her quest. Check out the article.

Posts on this blog highlighting the importance of screen-free time and space include:   Continue reading

Starting Out With Digital Devices Is Just Like Learning to Swim

swim-meetThe minute a child gets that first web-connected mobile device, the adults in the family commit themselves to extended digital life “swimming lessons.”

Young swimmers become increasingly competent and skilled while at the same time needing adult support, supervision, and occasional intervention. Twenty-first Century digital natives require the same parental attention and guidance as they learn to operate safety and adroitly in the connected world waters. Swimming and connected-world activities, though they require long-term adult oversight, help children explore the world around them and gain confidence, learn new things and grow their abilities, learn to make good decisions and yes, avoid making bad ones. The key to their success is adult support.

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6 Digital Life Conversation Starters to Use in School Meetings, Discussions & Presentations

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

Now that back-to-school nights are about over, schools will be scheduling parent potlucks, curriculum nights, and educational seminars throughout the academic year. These activities offer lots of opportunity for educational communities to start conversations about the challenges — for parents and kids — of growing up in the connected world.

At all of these events administrators, teachers, and parents should plan to incorporate a few introductory comments that encourage parents think about helping their digital children become stronger learners, more savvy digital citizens, better consumers of content on their digital devices, and overall, more knowledgeable citizens.

Below are a few questions that can be shared at a school events and classroom presentations, questions that encourage parents to talk about managing life with 21st Century digital kids. While there are no right answers to these questions, the conversations provide adults an opportunity to talk about what works — and what does not —  in the context of young people’s school and social lives.

Choose one or at most two inquiries to use at each activity. Continue reading