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Digital Parenting

December 16, 2018

Tech.LiteracyEarlier this week, I had the opportunity to host a community conversation. The topic of that conversation was the use of social media by our students. In many ways, the exchange was a broader conversation about the impact of technology on instruction, classroom management, social interactions, and families.  This community discussion included parents with both younger students as well as high school students. We developed a list of “do and do not” for social media use. It’s a good starting point for discussions in the classroom and at home. The one unifying theme amongst all participants is that the use of social media is evolving at a fast pace. It is challenging to keep pace with the many facets of social media – at school and at home.

There are no easy answers, and no “one size fits all” solution.  We discussed some general guidelines for parents, and some general talking points to help parents navigate the world of parenting in this digital age.  We know that technology can be very, very addictive for young people (adults too!). While we do not know or understand the science on how technology use impacts developing minds, we do know that there are social and physical implications.  Extensive, unrestricted use of technology can cause depression, loneliness, and other health/safety problems. The first landmark study on the effect of screen time on developing brains was released earlier this year. The results are staggering.

The group did agree that one of the critical aspects of steering young people toward the healthy use of technology is to stay engaged, aware, and involved. It’s important to set expectations and to establish clear guidelines for technology use and screen time that are consistent with the non-digital world (IRL for the students reading this). If you wouldn’t allow your child to bully someone in person, then it seems disingenuous to permit that behavior online. Teaching and modeling how to be kind in an online environment is an essential part of that understanding.

Parenting can be challenging. Young people with access to the digital world further complicate parenting decisions.  Setting clear parameters for what is permitted online will help alleviate some of those challenges. Restricting access to personal devices at times is a good thing. Children and teens need structure and limits to develop and grow into responsible citizens. Modeling the expected, appropriate behavior is essential, too. Family meals where no technology is permitted is a good beginning. Just as adults show children how to develop a healthy lifestyle with eating, exercise, and sleep, it is equally as important to model healthy behavior with the use of personal electronic devices.

Finally, we are raising a generation of digital natives. For parents, this is unchartered territory. Talk with other parents. Read. Learn about the positive and negative impacts of screen time, social media, and personal technology. It’s a fascinating time in which to raise the next generation. Let’s be cautious and prudent in our efforts to guide these youth toward positive, healthy use of personal devices, the internet, and social media.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 18, 2018 3:39 pm

    Nice article. I’ll post it tomorrow at https://DrDougGreen.Com. I also suggest you make the font a bit bigger and consider adding a subhead or two. Good luck.

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