Are Parents Confident About Managing Kids’ Technology Use?

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Visit the FOSI site to look at the digital parenting report as well as the results of other research.

attended the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) 2014 annual conference last week and was captivated by the results of the organization’s new digital parenting research — a national survey conducted by Hart Research Associates — with randomly selected parents of children, ages 6 – 17. The participants’ children needed to be Internet users and have access to technology devices.

FOSI commissioned the research to identify digital parenting trends — the challenges, benefits, and potential harm that parents worry about as they observe their 21st Century children using technology of effortlessly. You can read the entire report, and on the same page you can also see the slide presentation that attendees saw during the conference.

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Back-to-School Digital Life Conversation Starters

b8dbf690fa0c8bea11_ahm6b34k7Check out an interesting graphic filled with back-to-school digital life conversation starters over at the Platform for Good website. You can also download a PDF with a larger image to post at home near a work area or on the refrigerator.

August and September are good months to think about family digital citizenship issues. Ask yourself and your kids questions such as:

  • How can we balance screen time with outside time?
  • How can we model best practices for one another?
  • How can we keep track of our digital footprints and our digital reputations?
  • Should we use one of the many digital contracts and agreements in our family?

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Summer Camps Cut Back on Technology

gadget-camp1Are your children going to sleep-away camp this summer?

If so, have fun reading this 2011, but still timely  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.

Read the entire Tribune article.

Have A Chat If Your Child Uses SnapChat

Visit Snapchat.

If your children are using or begging to use the Snapchat app on their digital devices, the time has come for a conversation.

Kids love Snapchat because it makes them feel like they can have secrets, sharing them with others by choice, and occasionally venturing into out-of-bounds territory. They like it because it’s private. And they like it because everything self-destructs in a few seconds.

Well, not really disappear, because the digital footprints we make are never lost and are always lying around — often for a long time.

According to a New York Times article, Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure, the Federal Communications.Commission (FCC) has declared that Snapchat’s claims of disappearing messages and privacy are false. This is a good time to sit down with kids and review the situation — emphasizing that none of us has much privacy anymore, no matter what app makers claim. The privacy which many pre-adolescents and teens thought that they had, does not exist, according to Times reporter Jenna Wortham, who also goes into detail about the settlement with the FCC and the terms that Snapchat has agreed to.

Also take a look at the FCC’s memo, aptly titled Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False. It states:                        Continue reading

Better Quality Sleep? Get Some Centralized Home Charging Stations

A neat charging station made from a file box from a MakeZine activity.

A neat charging station made from a file box from a MakeZine activity.

With so many different electronic devices in our lives, it’s easy to get distracted and use them for extended periods and inappropriate times. Concerns about overuse abound, but one of the most significant issues is the way that digital devices keep people, young children, and especially 21st Century preadolescents and teens from getting enough good quality sleep.

To improve sleep habits in your house, consider purchasing or one or two digital gadget charging stations where family members can charge phones and other devices. Locate the charging stations away from the bedrooms.

A Google search for device charging stations gets you started (Amazon sells quite a few), or you can begin with this Mashable post, 10 Chic Charging Stations.

I recently discovered, in a small way, just how a cell phone screen can disrupt sleep. I received a new Solitaire game app, and began playing two or three games on my iPhone just before bed several nights in a row. A few games grew into 20 or 30 minutes of play, and for three nights in a row, when I put down the phone, it took me a long time to settle down and get to sleep. The fourth night I did not play, and sleep came easily. Lesson learned.   Continue reading