I 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. Continue reading
Want to learn a bit about the 21st Century students who are entering college right now and infer a bit about digital kids at other ages? Check out this year’s Beloit College Mindset list for the class of 2018. This yearly list helps adults — parents and educators — recognize just how much our cultural frames of reference differ from those of our digital-age children, even if they may be younger than college freshmen.
Started in 1998 by two faculty members at Beloit, the list was originally created as a way for faculty and staff at the college to learn more about how easy it is for adults talk about things that they take for granted but that their students don’t know. The website includes links to past years’ lists.
Check 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?
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.
A week does not go by without students and parents asking me about an Internet scam, a circulating chain mail, a digital rumor, or a wild web story. And on a fairly regular basis, someone — always a good reliable kid or a terrific and reliable parent — forwards a digital missive that initially seems somewhat innocuous, silly, or sarcastic but then unleashes a virus or malware. Sometimes for children the strange digital content causes social problems.
To learn more about the unusual stories that circulate on the web, I suggest that 21st Century parents introduce Snopes.com to family members as soon as each individual begins using online communication and digital devices. We all need to learn how to consult Snopes resources and navigate around the site for helpful information — the true and reliable info — when strange and unusual content beckons. Continue reading