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:
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.
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, in which he suggests:
Tech is fun. Understand how it works, set boundaries, find a healthy balance and have a laugh with your kids.
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!
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:
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?
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
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.
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.
The two-in-one parenting I described is I guess less of multitasking and more of keeping our bodies connected while allowing our minds to drift apart. There are moments when we need to focus our minds together, but not every moment with my child needs to be that moment. And that’s OK.
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.
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.
- Be inquisitive about your child’s digital life
- Be a part of your child’s digital life
- Model the behaviours you expect
This reminds me of a post from danah boyd discussing the fear of digital addiction. She suggests:
- Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone
- Create a household contract
- 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