The beginning of a school year is a good time for families to set limits, explain rules, and in general, clarify expectations about technology use. Getting started in the fall, when everyone is off to a new grade and a fresh beginning, encourages healthy tech habits.
Depending on the age of your children, you may want to accomplish some or even all of the tasks on this list, encouraging everyone to think responsibly and become committed digital citizens.
Nine Back-to-School Technology Tasks
1. Place computers in central, well-traveled locations — away from bedrooms and private spaces.
Yesterday in the District of Columbia (my school) and Virginia (my home), we had an earthquake, the largest quake in our area in 70 years. At school things rumbled and doors slammed, so most of the adults, who were preparing for the start of the school year, headed outside for a bit. At my house I returned to find pictures askew. A few things fell on the floor at home, but my neighbor checked on the house and picked them up before I arrived.
Lots of parents think about the types of jobs their children will hold as adults, but today these days fast-paced technology changes loom large, so adults may need to adopt a new mindset when it comes to understanding the ever-changing nature of employment that today’s children will encounter.
In a July 12, 2011 column in the New York Times, Pulitizer Prize-winning writer Thomas L Friedman (The World is Flat), writes about jobs and the technology world. (or as he often calls it the “flat world”). In his opinion piece, The Start-Up of You, Friedman points out that all of the employees from the big, but newish tech firms (such Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon) can fit into Madison Square Garden with seats to spare. Basically, these firms are not creating that many jobs.
This week I am in Philadelphia attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference along with more than 15,000 technology educators and school administrators — all of us thinking about how students and, yes, their parents and teachers, learn in the fast-changing digital world.
The exhibits feature hundreds of vendors (36 long rows in a vast hall), and we can choose to attend an array of keynotes, presentations, meetings, poster displays, student presentations, and demonstrations.
Have fun reading this Chicago Tribune article, Welcome to Camp Tur-Ni-Toff, describing the lengths that sleep-away camps are going to preserve “their bucolic bubbles.” It sounds like the luckiest camps are those that do not have cell reception in the area. NOTE: The reporter points out that parents have more difficulty with the gadget prohibitions than do the campers.
My favorite quote:
The essence of camp is to rise and fall on your own … not to call your parents because you’re homesick or having a bad day,
My second favorite quote:
Even letters home are done with actual stamps and paper … a first for many of our campers.
Strange screen names seem to pop up in the summer more than any other time of the year.
The best screen names are boring. In a virtual world, where even a nuanced word association can invite unfortunate behavior, taking care when choosing these online names is critical. The easiest solution is to use a first name, nickname, or a different name, perhaps paired with numbers at the beginning or end. Many years ago I used 29Marti1607, a name that attracted little attention except once when someone asked me if my ancestors had lived in colonial Jamestown (settled in 1607).
Children experiment with edgy screen names as one way to look and feel cool, and as they get older, their choices often push limits, unintentionally drawing attention. A suggestive name in any number of categories can encourage the people who interact with your child — even people who are friends — to behave impulsively in the web world where adult supervision is minimal. It is way too easy for two-way communication to go awry.