Digital Kids to Parents — Don’t Break Your Own Rules! A Poem

Several years ago I uploaded a post, Advice from Digital Kids to Parents, including some of the thoughts that kids in grades 3-6 shared with me about adults’ digital activities. My students often commented that it was unfair when parents asked their kids to sign a digital life contract or agreement, because adults then proceeded to break many of the common sense rules.

For some time I’ve felt those children’s voices bubbling up with their ideas, and since today (Sunday) is the last day of National Poetry Month 2017, I listened to those voices, penning this poem about kids, parents, contracts, and common sense.

So here’s my second, and I hope amusing poem about digital life from kids’ perspectives. (Read my first poem.) Children have brought up all these events in discussions with during digital citizenship activities.

Hey Mom and Dad…

I’m really glad I got my phone,
It’s cool and lots of fun.
I’m texting friends and playing games,
It seems I’m never done.

I signed your contract with my name,
Yes, it was right to do.
But I wish you’d take the time
To follow those rules too!

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Can iPads Help Kids Stay Calm & Avoid Meds Before Surgery?

ipad-1Sometimes kids get so ultra-focused on their iPads that they don’t notice anything that’s going on around them, and sometimes parents and teachers despair. There are, however, situations where 21st Century digital kids’ intensive engagement and concentration can be put to good use — even with a digital device.

Physician Dominique Chassard, an anesthesiologist in Lyon, France, wanted to find out whether children preparing for pediatric ambulatory surgery would do just as well if they had iPads to play with before an operation as with a routine pre-anesthesia sedative. The study authors divided participant families into two groups. Half of the children received the standard sedative treatment and the other half were given iPads so they could play with games and puzzles. Continue reading

Digital Parenting Back-to-School Checklist

Read the 2016 updated version of this post.

back to school digital parents checklist

Click to download a PDF of the Digital Parenting Checklist.

It’s back-to-school 2015, a time to list the many tasks we need to accomplish before the start of the new academic year. We think about school supplies, new clothes and shoes, new lunch boxes, and, of course, new digital devices and computers. We check off our lists as we go, getting our 21st Century children ready to return to school.

Yet back-to-school season is also a useful time for parents to list, consider, and articulate connected-life expectations, old and new, for the coming year. What do you want your children to do or not do? How do you expect them to behave when a friend encourages behavior that is not allowed at home?

To help you consider the issues of your child’s digital life, and your own, use the eight-item checklist below to get started.                               Continue reading

Before and After the Super Storm: Resources for Parents

Click to access the tips (in PDF form).

If ever there is a time to keep our media literacy skills front and center, it’s after a national disaster. Adults need to regulate and monitor what children see and, more importantly, adults need to remember that children see and hear a lot more than we sometimes think.

Check out the blog posting Protecting Children From the Media’s Storm Coverage. Written by K.J. Dell’Antonia, the New York Times Motherlode blogger, the November 2, 2012 article focuses on the need to limit children’s exposure to storm-related media coverage.
The Motherlode article directs readers to a two-page document that offers even more information about protecting children from prolonged traumatic event coverage — a free PDF available from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. The two-page article, Protecting Children from Disturbing Media Reports During Traumatic Events, offers tips for parents and caregivers, going into detail about what children understand at each age level.        Continue reading

Family Conversations on Digital Life

The Seattle Times recently published Ways for Parents to Ease the Tussle With Teens over Tech Use. The January 27, 2012 article, by Julie Weed, reviews the challenges of digital parenting and suggests five digital life ground rules, including setting up a technology/gadget evening curfew.

Read the entire article.

Discouraging News on the Media Lit Frontier

Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, p 11

The New York Times has reported on a Common Sense Media (CSM) sponsored study, Zero to Eight, Children’s Media Use in America (PDF). The Times article, Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children, describes the study and points out that kids are in front of a screen more than ever despite the recommendations of their doctors.

After reading this I am feeling a bit more pessimistic than usual. Adults are used to tossing health caution to the wind for themselves, but we were vigilant about protecting the health of our children. Now we seem to  disregard the recommendations of pediatricians — the very people who can help us do the most possible to ensure that our kids grown into strong and productive adults. Are we as a society less and less concerned about the development of strong minds? Times reporter Tamar Lewin writes:

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens…

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Is It Spying or Is It Parenting?

A look at the browsing history in Safari

Recently I read Tracy Grant’s article, The Case for Spying on Your Kids, in the October 5, 2011 Washington Post, and it’s well worth reading. Grant believes that parents should keep close track of their children’s online activities. After I finished the article I decided it’s unfortunate that so many people equate keeping an eye on a child’s digital activities with spying. It’s not spying.

From my perspective, it’s just fine for parents to closely supervise the digital activities of kids, just like parents supervise non-digital endeavors. Understanding what’s going on, setting limits, teaching children to follow website rules, and defining expectations — as children encounter more and smaller personal computers and digital gadgets — are important responsibilities. Knowing what’s going on is a part of parenting.

Yet learning about what’s going on takes time, a scarce resource for many adults, and the situation gets even more complicated because the digital skills of many children outpace their parents.

Grant describes her conversation with Steven Balkam of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) (this organization has a website that parents may want to explore), and she also mentions a new monitoring service, SafetyWeb

In Grant’s article Balkam points out, “The history button on a computer is a very important tool for parents.”

The digital world offers many opportunities to help children learn, collaborate, and grow as digital citizens, and we want our children to become literate and savvy consumers of online resources. Strong digital parenting — even when a parent is in awe of a child’s online prowess — is one of the ways to ensure that children grow into confident, respectful, and competent learners.

I recommend reading the book Born Digital, by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. The authors, from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, focus on the changing nature of growing up in the digital world.