What I Know About: Digital Parenting

This is the first post in new series on Digital Parenting

Recently I have had more than my fair share of conversations with other parents about technology and their kids. The reactions have run the gamut between absolute refusal to allow their children to participate at all, to cautious approval, to a complete hands off approach. I never really thought much about it, until I stopped to listen to a few of these super passionate, an opinionated conversations on the subject.  AND You should see the looks I get if I decide to chime in on the subject and share my experiences.  After the fourth or fifth eye roll,  it finally dawned on me that there might be some fear and confusion around this subject that should be addressed.

At the moment everyone in my house has an ipod, we’ve got a couple of laptops, and digital cameras, and of course Wi-Fi. My oldest daughter has a cell phone, and I pay for unlimited data service. She has her own blog, YouTube channel, twitter account and Facebook page, in fact she had a MySpace page too.

I know ewww MySpace how could I? In my defense it was about two years ago, before MySpace went evil and I had total access to the username and password.  Actually MySpace really changed her life, and shaped her career path. She discovered on MySpace that she had access to all kinds of teen musicians, bloggers and other talented kids. She began interviewing them on MySpace and blogging about them. She is a pretty responsible kid, I had to time to spot check her activities and it all worked out okay.

However I realize that it’s easy for me to take this position. I make my living online, and blogging is my hobby.  If you weren’t raised with a keyboard in your lap, you might be trying to parent with a digital disadvantage.

Then

When I was growing up cordless phones, giant home computers, vcr’s, video games and pagers where amazing technological advances. If you have a child under the age of 18, think about it, they grew up in a world of  laptops, cell phones, iPods.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  Back around 1985ish my dad had the foresight to purchase a home computer. It must have set him back a pretty penny! When everyone else was scared of computers taking over the world and replacing jobs, my dad encouraged my brothers and I to play with it. Why? Because hre had a feeling that it would be a big part of our future, and how the world would do business. Wish had had bought us some of the nice Apple stock too.

Now

Social networking and interactive technology is not going away. It is simply the latest evolution of technology. The next big thing will be much more more frighting and obtrusive than this is now. Someday, this will be the good old days.

But what about the danger? Should you really allow your kids to put themselves out there in the world like that?

Yes. But I think you have to understand how and why and in what context.

You teach them how to cross the street safely, and how to conduct themselves in other public forums, why not this one?


Here are a few other topics that I think I might cover in this series. If you have any other ideas for things you might want me to research, please leave them in the comments.

Teens & Facebook Pros & Cons
Facebook Fathers
Holding Her Hand When Crossing the Digital Divide
Is your 7 Year on a Social Networks
Building trust with Picture Mail

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5 thoughts on “What I Know About: Digital Parenting”

  1. Great points here Jennifer, it is critical that parents go back to teaching values and critical thinking and not try to outsource that to teachers, schools, churches and other institutions.

    Another perplexing topic:

    Teen and Online bullying and sexting.

  2. Interesting. Although we have three laptops in the house and he has his own iPod, my 7 year old is NOT on a social network, unless you consider connecting with his friends on the DSi to play as a group. I can’t yet give in to the cell phone for him, though, no matter how much he begs. It’s not really about danger/fear, etc, it’s more about him growing up too quickly. Or should I say me not wanting him to grow up too quickly. He plays games online, goes to YouTube to watch Jon Bon Jovi videos and does occasional research via the Web, but that’s about it. He’s more into sports, music and art at the moment. I would consider letting him join a social network if he asked, but he hasn’t. Yet.

    Interested to know how old most parents give in to the cell phone request.

  3. I think you make wonderful points. I think it goes back to age appropriateness and good parenting. We run in a culture of instant access. Whether it be hearing a song on the radio that you like, going home and downloading to your iPod or being able to call someone at three numbers, following up with a text if they don’t answer one of them and then the last resort an email.

    We can’t expect our children to be able to survive in the world ten years from now if we don’t begin to expose them to the age appropriate basics now. They will be lost. Any of you have parents that curse call-waiting?

    But again it’s about good parenting, they are still kids. Don’t give the cell phone, and be surprised at the bill, when you have had no conversation and set no boundaries with the usage. Don’t let them set themselves up on social networks and have the audacity to be shocked when a co-worker tells you their surprise at your child’s risque profile pic.

    I think you should write about HOW you knew your daughter was ready for a cell and FB, Twitter and the rest.

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