Another Thing To Worry About: How To Raise Kids In The Digital Age
A few years ago, this video went viral with an interesting subtext: Our children live in a new world.
While this change has important ramifications for all of us, parents are put in a particularly interesting predicament.
Children have never come with owners' manuals, but one of the most common techniques has always been to parent the same way we were parented. It wasn't a perfect strategy, but it was certainly a start.
However, digital natives live in an entirely different world. Along with the basic topics, such as warning about stranger danger and limiting screen time, here are three things you need to understand about the different world your little digital native is living in:
Your Child's Life Will Be Documented Online
This is the 21st century. Like it or not, your kids are going to leave digital footprints.
As a parent, you can't eliminate this fact. Instead, you can help your children craft the kind of footprints they will leave.
Part of this conversation will involve proper online posting and interactions. Discuss ways to think about what they're posting and how it will be received.
This can at least help keep them from making negative comments that may eventually come back to haunt them.
There are also ways to help your children use these footprints as productive tools for the future.
Your child is growing up in a world where college recruiters and potential employers will be checking his or her online history as a standard screening procedure.
What if your child spent some of that online time constructing a positive online portfolio? Fill it with school writing samples, pictures of awards and happy moments so viewers can see exactly what you want them to see.
Your Child's School Is Different
Consider the following information presented in this graphic.
That's right, 99 percent of kids surveyed reported that they use technology for educational purposes.
While this shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise in our digital world, it should serve as a very clear message: The educational process as you knew it is gone.
Remember going to the dictionary or encyclopedia when you didn't know an answer? Remember that term paper you wrote, filling out note cards and then handwriting a rough draft? Your kids don't.
On the other hand, do you remember being asked to certify the validity of a website? How often were you asked to present your findings in a multimedia format?
As parents, it can be extremely frustrating to help students try to obtain skills we ourselves were never asked to master.
Sometimes, we want to lash out at the expectations. ("I never had to do this, and I was fine!") But, the evolution of skills required of today's learners means, whether you're ready or not, they need to make these jumps.
Your Child Is A Cell Phone Away From Everything
Maybe your mom used to stand on the back porch and call you home. Or, maybe she phoned a few of your friends' parents to see if she could track you down somewhere in the neighborhood. Those days are gone.
Surveys indicate that 80 percent of teens 12 to 18 years old have a cell phone, and the age of phone users continues to drop. Chances are, as long as they pick up the phone or answer your text, your kids are always a phone call away.
Now, before you completely celebrate this notion, remember that raising self-sufficient kids requires adequate room to develop.
Just because you know your kids have that cell in their pocket, doesn't mean you should be checking in every five minutes.
Instead, take solace in knowing your kids have the ability to reach out when they need you. Foster a relationship that makes them comfortable enough to contact you in an emergency.
Something else to remember is they're connected to everything, not just you. While Instagram or Facebook may seem to you like an easy way to keep in touch with old friends, it's something completely different to your kids.
They can constantly update their digital lives, and this is their main method of projecting themselves to the world.
That phone is access to an entire reputation, just like a lunch table would have been in the good ol' days.
While these digital differences between generations will likely cause some clashes, it's important to consider the world our kids enjoy.
Our perceptions of social media and education come from a mindset that is completely foreign to these kids, and trying to force our 21st-century thinkers to operate in a 20th-century dynamic simply won't work.
We need to be flexible and adaptive, all while helping our children make good choices.