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Top 10 Parent and Teacher Concerns about Children and Technology

Top Ten Concerns about Children and Technology

Top 10 Parent and Teacher Concerns about Children and TechnologyOne of my favorite parts of Raising Digital Natives is presenting to parent groups, teachers and administrators. Frequently, parents and teachers share their experiences with me, so I learn as much as I teach. Being exposed to the concerns parents and teachers have about kids in the digital age is extremely informative and valuable to shaping the the ways Raising Digital Natives can help families and schools.

For educators, this list offers a helpful orientation to parent concerns that you may wish to address directly in your parent engagement communication.  Here are some more ideas for how educators can respond to parent concerns. I’ve collected some of these common concerns from recent conversations with parents.

See if you identify with any of these concerns:

  1. How much “screen time” is too much?
    These days, it seems children never get a break from technology. Whether at school or at home, for work or for play, there’s always a screen in the room. But at what point do the harms of digital devices outweigh their benefits? When is it time to disconnect?
  2. How much video game time is too much?
    Kids love their video games. If left alone, many kids would have no problem at all spending an entire day building and exploring on Minecraft. While this type of gaming does have its benefits, most adults will agree that a day-long gaming marathon is excessive.
  3. Are social skills at risk?
    Sometimes, kids will choose playing with a computer over playing with their friends. While gaming can be social, is this damaging to their socialization? Does excessive screen time cause kids to miss out on learning how to deal with important social scenarios? How harmful is the lack of real, face-to-face interaction to their social development? In Chapter five of my book, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive and Survive in Their Digital World, I address the idea that empathy is the app and that kids can learn to consider the people they game with or share social networks with in thoughtful ways.
  4. How do you ensure safety on the Internet?
    It’s no secret that the Internet is chock-full of content that is not appropriate for children. Younger children may be unaware that this type of content—as well as more serious online dangers—exist, they also may not know how to avoid them. How do you protect your children and stay Web-safe without infringing on their browsing privacy?
  5. Is traditional learning at risk?
    When tablets replace notebooks in the classroom, opportunities for digital learning are arguably limitless. However, perhaps children do benefit from old-school, pen-and-paper techniques. By eliminating the traditional methods of teaching, are their developmental learning tools suffering in some way?
  6. How can a child focus with so many distractions?
    “But I need my computer to do homework!” Children can’t be good students without finishing their work, often on computers and/or tablets. But computers, tablets, and other devices are often multi-purpose. That means that they also have games and other opportunities to connect with friends. When tempted by things more fun than homework, how is it possible to let kids use technology but still keep them focused? In Screenwise, I share how to co-create solutions to distractions, while acknowledging that we ALL get distracted.
  7. Can kids still find fun without technology?
    Are the days of riding bikes and climbing trees entirely behind us? When video games and computers offer instant and easy distractions, what happens to the “traditional” ways that kids play? Can kids still independently find amusement, and can we trust them to find creative and productive ways to stay entertained?
  8. What should parents of different age groups expect?
    While many of these questions persist as kids grow, oftentimes, new ones arise. Every age group uses and understands technology in different ways. What particular issues should parents of a six-year-old be concerned about, and how do they differ from those of a twelve-year-old?
  9. Does social media create “FOMO?”
    A major cause of social stress for children and teenagers is the Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO. Will the sad feeling of not getting invited to the birthday party be made worse by scrolling through the group selfies from the party on Instagram. How do we avoid this, and how do we deal with it if it arises? Kids talk about how to manage Exclusion in the Instagram Age in this post. 
  10. Is the parent/teacher connection at risk?
    Rest in Peace, Red Pen. With tablets replacing traditional homework methods, parent involvement almost inevitably decreases. This is a surprise to some parents—something they weren’t expecting. When it’s harder to see teacher feedback on homework, how can parents bridge that gap with educators in order to continue to help their kids in the same way? I’ve also written some guidelines for parent/teacher communication in the digital age. 

Getting Your Child a Phone?

Are you ready? Are they ready? Join my Cell Phone Boot Camp to get ready to support them through this important transition. Already got your child a phone and now wishing you’d been more prepared? This class will also be helpful for a family that has recently purchased a phone for their child (in the past year) and would like some help making it work.

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Photo credit: “Parent Appreciation Day” by Jose Kevo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Unchanged from original.

Perplexed Parent: What to Do When Your Child Wants to Use a Social App You’ve Never Heard Of

Perplexed parent: “My child wants to use tbh, Instagram, WhatsApp, Live.ly, Sarahah, Snapchat, Yellow, Kik, Musical.ly, Houseparty, Marco Polo,  (insert latest, greatest app here). I’ve never heard of half of these, don’t know what they do, and am not even sure what my yes or no means! Guidance, please?”

Dr. Devo:  Yep, totally get it.  You feel like a Wack-a-Mole trying to stay on top of it all! It IS overwhelming to keep up with.   That’s why I’ve made it my mission to be your mentor and guide and help you wade through the tech jungle that is your child’s world.  Next time you are faced with this kind of plea from your digital native, try these steps:

Internet safety, tween angst, app overload, "perplexed parent", tween apps, teen apps, teens and smartphones, digital toddlers, too many apps, which apps to let kid download, 1.  WADE IN

Ask.   Invite your child to tell you everything he or she knows about the app and why she wants the app.  (besides because “all my friends are on it.”) What is the attraction to her? How will he use it?  Is it a social app? A game? How much personal information is shared? How do people act in that space? How does it make people feel?  Make it a prerequisite to download or purchase that you and she will sit down and interact with it – together.

Consult. Ask a local “expert” for advice. This can be anyone– an older kid, the babysitter, your college-aged niece. Find a reliable young person a few years older than your own kid to give you the down low.

Investigate.  Talk to someone like me. Or see what the reviewers at Common Sense Media have to say. Or ask the parents in your parenting Facebook group.

2. GO DEEPER

 

Instagram

If you want to know more about what people do on Instagram, you can go to the to Instagram #explore and look around.

Try searching for monkeys, kittens, Justin Bieber or try something naughtier–what might your 12 year old search for? Yes, I know kids are supposed to be 13 to use most social apps, including Instagram, but many kids have Instagram accounts before this birthday!

Know what’s out there, but don’t assume that just because there is instaporn that your child knows this or wants to see it. Just because inappropriate content can be found on an app, doesn’t mean that is what your son or daughter is looking for…but do remember that user generated content is not rated the way movies would be…and that most of these companies are WAY to small to adequately screen content.

Snapchat

Want to see some actual snapchats kids are sending? Here are a few tamer ones from twitter: (there are quite a few I don’t feel comfortable posting here) 

 

And of course, you can always download the app and try it yourself. As a general rule, social apps that skew toward anonymity (like Sarahah, Ask.fm, After School, and some others) seem most likely to harbor mean behaviors. Human beings don’t seem to do their best when anonymously responding to others.

3. ENGAGE

If you are thinking about giving the thumbs up after doing research, here are some questions to discuss with your child:

  • Ask him to show you an example of someone’s post in the app that he doesn’t think is appropriate and one he thinks is smart and cool.
  • Work with your child to generate a list of do’s and don’ts for the new app.
  • For a social app, what is the criteria for connecting with someone?
  • What is the potential for drama? Can they give an example of how to avoid drama?
  • How much time will she be allowed to spend using the app, and under what conditions?
  • What privacy settings will he use?
  • Is having her password a condition of use?  Being “friends” or “following” her?
  • How will he decide what can be shared or not shared?
  • Does she know how to avoid “geotagging” herself, leaving a trail of data?

Wading in, going deeper and then having an honest discussion with your child is a great way to keep up with the apps she’s using and make sure what she downloads is safe and fun. If the app seems to be dialing up stress, taking away from other pursuits (sleep, homework, family time) or is having any other negative effects, then it is time to rethink.

 

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