8 Tips to Help Parents Raise Stronger 21st Century Learners

As we approach the end of 2012 and the holiday season that will surely introduce new gadgets and devices into many of our households, it’s a good time to reassess family digital expectations.

Learning in the 21st Century requires that children competently use digital resources much of the time. To do this each student needs plenty of experience making choices, understanding limits, and mastering the art of filtering out what is immaterial at any given point. Children who get this guidance at home and at school are the most prepared to become effective learners.

These eight tips aim to help parents of digital kids to get started. If you teach, consider sharing them with your students’ parents.

1. Place computers and tablet devices in central, well-traveled locations — away from bedrooms and private spaces.

2. Make adults, not children, the administrators on all computers, including laptops until you are certain of each child’s decision-making.

3. Print and post rules and expectations. Specify the times when you do not want your children using computers. Emphasize that your family rules are in effect when your child goes to a friend’s house.

4. Help your children to come up with a strategy that helps them to distance themselves whenever and wherever inappropriate digital activities occur.

5. If your children have mobile phones, have you discussed appropriate use, texting, and limits on a phone’s digital camera? Download a PDF of my cell phone contract.                       Continue reading

Staying Power — Is there Such a Thing Anymore?

My First Palm (PDA)

I’ve been thinking a lot about staying power and about the importance of understanding just how fast things can change in the digital world. Both are great topics for family conversations about 21st Century life.

My Current iPhone 4S

In Bye Bye BlackBerry. How Long Will Apple Last? Forbes writer Adam Thierer describes a historical pattern — digital information giants rising and eventually declining when something better, more interesting, and useful comes along.

Using Blackberry as the current example, with occasional references to Palm devices, Thierer points out that these companies are classic examples of companies, “… with a static snapshot mentality disregarding the potential for new entry and technological disruption.”

I’ve never owned a personal computer other than a Mac, so I understand a lot about rising and falling fortunes and how Apple is currently riding high. I also, fondly remember my first Palm device and how revolutionary it seemed.

Still it’s interesting to think about what new and exiting gizmos may be residing in someone’s garage, basement, hard drive — or imagination — and how revolutionary they may seem compared to the products we love right now.

Sherry Turkle TED Lecture-Connected but Alone?

The TED Talk site just posted the most recent lecture by MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle. It’s embedded below.

In her presentation Professor Turkle  illustrates several of the most compelling issues from her recent book, Alone Together. She points out that technology may give us an illusion of togetherness with others, but she challenges us to understand that digital connectedness is not a substitute for person-to-person interaction.

  • Are we hiding from each other even as we are connected?
  • With fewer face-to-face conversations with one another are we less able to learn how to have conversations with ourselves?
  • Do feelings that no one is really listening to us make us want to spend more time with machines that make us feel like these devices are listening to us?
  • Are people increasingly willing to settle for the pretend empathy of devices and robots?

Continue reading

Is the Price of Privilege too Little Sleep?

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

iPad Ownership Growth in the U.S.

The ComScore DataMine site features this graph depicting the growth of iPad ownership across income categories in the United States.  And these numbers are before the iPad III goes on sale.

Last week at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference, I attended quite a few iPad in education events. Here’s a January 2012 New York Times article, Math that Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad.

Also check out the March 5, 2012 New York Times piece, As New iPad Debut Nears, Some See Decline of PCs.

Kids, Parenting, Gadgets, and Sleep…

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