Bookmarked Co-constructing Digital Futures: Parents and Children becoming Thoughtful, Connected, and Critical Users of Digital Technologies (

As researchers and parents we understand the need to build digital literacy and engagement through the digital world, but that this is counterbalanced by giving up privacy and leaving a data trail. By early adolescence, our children are internalizing acceptable internet use. Parents and teachers need to be part of the conversation with them that shapes their understanding on these concepts. This chapter presents key findings from four case studies that examined how parents and children might understand, navigate, and become more reflective about the trends, forces, and tensions around privacy, security, and algorithms in their lives and the activities in which they engage on screens.

W. Ian O’Byrne, Kristen Turner, Kathleen A. Paciga and Elizabeth Stevens share findings based on case studies stemming from their own digital parenting. The focus was on how we might empower children to advocate for their own rights, rather than focusing the conversation around fear and harm.

As literacy researchers, we are parents with, perhaps, more knowledge about how algorithms and privacy work in a digital world, and we sit at an interesting intersection (Garcia et al., 2014). In this writing, we propose a more collaborative approach than what has typically been adopted when thinking about children and technology. Rather than framing the problem as technology doing harm to children, we suggest that we can empower children to advocate for their own rights in an age of screentime (Turner et al., 2017).

The four themes/strategies they shared are:

  • Find an Approach Point
  • Provide Media Mentorship
  • Address Concerns Head-on
  • Use Language that Empowers

In the end, the authors argue that, “conversations about privacy, security, and the nature of algorithms need to start early and be ongoing.”

My take-away from the piece is that it is able make the most of the opportunities when they may arise.

“wiobyrne” in Creativity is Subtraction – Digitally Literate ()

Replied to Challenge Set! Structuring Their (Screen) Time. | Learning & Leading (

With the above being taken into account, as well as again, trying to steer my darlings away from watching… ONLY YouTube videos, I decided to structure their screen time, and more so iPad time, by throwing out some challenges and projects for them to complete. To be honest, I thought that this idea would crash and burn however they have responded to what’s been set well. Their enthusiasm and motivation to complete these challenges have been great and I am pretty proud of them for seeing them through.

In setting these challenges and knowing my kids, I knew that there needed to be a few parameters around what I was setting. My kids are highly competitive and see anything that is deemed to be a challenge or pits one against another as competition – something that I was wanting to avoid. The parameters I set may differ for other kids and families however, they worked for us and until the wheels fall off, I’ll continue with them. There are only 3 and this is how they were pitched.

  1. You are rewarded for attempting the challenges being set. This is not about competition and who is the best. It is about participation, being challenged, and giving it a go! 
  2. Time limits are set. Challenges are not ongoing and or to last years at a time! 
  3. You must give it your best. No half baked attempts or deciding to opt-in purely to get a reward. I need to feel that you’ve not given your best.
I really enjoyed this piece on digital parenting and wondered what it might look like with my two daughters. The eldest can list all the fears around screentime, but is happy to sit and watch videos while playing Lego or drawing.

What I like about the ‘challenges’ is that it is not about how much screentime, instead it is about how that time is used. This was something Mitch Resnick discussed in this extract from Life-Long Kindergarten. The only addition I wonder about is something like Duolingo. Is this a challenge or too educational?

In regards to Garageband, I was reminded of something Austin Kleon said:

Like most parents, I angst about giving the kids too much screen time, but Garageband has taught me: Not all screen time is created equal. The right piece of software matched with a child’s natural proclivities and talents and passion can yield complete gold.

Replied to Digitally Literate #235 by wiobyrne (

Co-Constructing Digital Futures – Several members of the Screentime Research Group have been conducting research on the challenges and opportunities that exist as children grow up in an world that is increasingly dictated by algorithms. You can review the submitted manuscript here.

Ian, I really enjoyed your piece on digital futures. In particular, I liked the notion of ‘media mentorship’:

During these conversations, parents can provide media mentorship, or a guide that can help youth navigate the digital world while working to translate these experiences into positive and productive lifelong learning skills (Haines, Campbell and ALSC 2016).

It was interesting reading this after Troy Hunt’s piece for Safer Internet Day, in which he suggests:

Tech is fun. Understand how it works, set boundaries, find a healthy balance and have a laugh with your kids.

Bookmarked Sharenting, BYOD and Kids Online: 10 Digital Tips for Modern Day Parents (Troy Hunt)

I was invited into the local ABC Radio studio to comment on this piece and online safety in general so in a very meta way, I took my 7-year old daughter with me and captured this pic which, after discussion with her, I’m sharing online:

Discussion quickly went from sharenting to BYOD at schools to parental controls and all manner of kid-related cyber things. Having just gone through the BYOD process with my 10-year old son at school (and witnessing the confusion and disinformation from parents and teachers alike), now seemed like a good time to outline some fundamentals whilst sitting on a plane heading down to Sydney to do some adult-related cyber things!

For Safer Internet Day, Troy Hunt provides a number of tips when it comes to digital parenting. He argues that everyone needs to find there own balance, but this needs to involve guiding children, managing administration duties and living with the chance that anything shared could be made public. In the end, the message that eminates from Hunt’s piece is the importance of being an active parent.

Digital controls can never replace the role parents play in how the kids use devices; they should be complimentary to parenting rather than a substitute for it.

Some other useful pieces on this topic include:

Bookmarked Talking to youth about privacy, security, & digital spaces by Sign in – Google Accounts (W. Ian O'Byrne)

As parents, we need to ask questions of caregivers about the why/what of tech use. Why are they using ClassDojo or SeeSaw to take photos of our children and send us notices. Do we (as parents) want or need this communication? We need to ask questions about why our child’s art is uploaded to websites like Artsonia to sell products to friends and family members. Most importantly, we need to ask questions about where all of this data goes after our children have moved on, and the teacher, network admins, tech companies, and perhaps schools may no longer be there. Who will be tasked with ensuring this content is private and secure?

Ian O’Byrne provides some concrete examples of situations you could create to teach kids about digital security/algorithms. Ideally, O’Byrne suggests that this should start as early as possible.

My gut reaction is that these discussions need to start when children are 4 or 5. My indication that these discussions need to be developmentally appropriate means that we need to use terms and analogies that make sense to the child

Two ideas include the discussion of online spaces like ‘physical’ spaces and clues provided about a character within a story with a focus on what story you want to tell. Beyond all this, the most important thing you can do is model appropriate practices as a parent and being mindful of such things as sharenting.

This reminds me of something from danah boyd who provided two strategies:

Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone’
Create a household contract

Bookmarked Using the Internet to Raise Your Children (Medium)

This isn’t a HOWTO sit your kid down in front of a computer and have them turn into a genius. There is nothing that does that, there is nothing good that doesn’t involve effort from adult caregivers. Education is a conversation between people who care for each other, an energetic passing of culture and skills between generations. It takes our full attention in the moment to do it right, and that’s valuable, even when we don’t have nearly as many moments as we’d like.

Quinn Norton reflects on learning alongside her daughter. Although this learning is ‘work’, it can be fun work, especially when it is focused on interests. She supports this by suggesting a number recommendations to spark learning. My biggest takeaway was Quinn’s point that without pauses and reflection, music, podcasts and videos is merely consumption.

Cruising media without pauses feels like learning, but it’s not. If you don’t follow up the information by interacting with it, it’s in one ear and out the other. Redundancy helps, too. If you’re trying to teach your child about elemental particles, choosing a series of YouTube videos from different sources, with pauses each time to discuss them can be great, but the choosing and the pausing, to write or discuss notes, are what makes it learning instead of passive channel surfing.

Bookmarked Are your words doing damage: how to talk to your teen and help stop cyber bullying (Parent Hub – Dolly's Dream)

The Dolly’s Dream video made by 15-year-old Charlotte McLaverty has taken our understanding of the impact of cyber bullying out of our heads.

Another great piece from Dan Donahoo on cybersafety and the importance of environment.
Bookmarked Building trust helps the most in keeping our kids safe online (

When we see media stories about children who have been exploited or suffered abuse as a result of engaging with the online world – all parents shudder. These stories provoke our worst fears and elevate our concern about the dangers of the internet.

Dan Donahoo responds to the recent hype around the banning of mobile phones in schools. Rather than focusing on safety designs and managing screen time, he suggests that we need to build trusting relationships with our children. He provides three strategies to support this:

  1. Be inquisitive about your child’s digital life
  2. Be a part of your child’s digital life
  3. Model the behaviours you expect

This reminds me of a post from danah boyd discussing the fear of digital addiction. She suggests:

  1. Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone
  2. Create a household contract

There is no reason why the same could not apply in the classroom. I wonder if Matt Esterman’s notion of ‘Toolographies‘ supports this in that it helps fosters a more digitally informed citizen.

Liked Supporting your child online – pointers for parents (Parenting for a Digital Future)
  • Start young
  • Model appropriate use of digital technology
  • Agree family rules about digital technology use
  • Provide your child with access to digital technology, ideally that they have ownership of
  • Talk openly with your child about using digital technology
  • Help your child link up with trusted others who have shared interests (e.g. other Minecrafters)
  • Recognise and value the learning that will inevitably happen as your child engages with digital technology