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This week: advice from experts, discussing news with your kids, teaching proper communication skills, and a guy with a wagon & lots of smartphones.
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With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we’d like to take our relationship to the next level. That’s right; things are getting serious. We’ve started a Facebook group. The ITK Facebook Group is the real that’s been missing from Facebook, and you’re invited!
Join to be a part of a supportive community of parents, caregivers and educators as we share our fears, celebrate our victories, ask questions, and provide insight about all things kids and tech. It takes a village, and since we’re talking tech, a virtual village is only fitting.
Ask The Experts
This week, we’re excited to present the advice of Susan Borison and Stephanie Silverman, co-founders of Your Teen Media. In describing their work, Susan wrote, “For 12 years, Your Teen Media has been in the business of providing support and advice for parents of teenagers, and technology has been one of the biggest sources of anxiety. So many questions about access and safety and mental health. It’s also amazing how technology spills into every aspect of a teenager’s life. We’d love you to join our conversation and read what our experts say about gaming (hint: it’s not what you think) and reducing screen time and a blog from a mom who tracks her kids. We’re all trying to do the same thing: figure out how to help our teenagers lead healthy lives.”
To get links to a few of Your Teen Magazine’s awesome tech articles, click here.
Given Susan and Stephanie’s expertise and experience, we asked them about three things they wished they would have done differently, in terms of technology, when their kids were younger to make their lives with teens easier?
Their responses were insightful and practical, incorporating expert guidelines with realistic advice and focusing on the positives of technology, as well as where to set boundaries.
A big thanks to Susan and Stephanie for their time and be sure to check out their great work at Your Teen Magazine!
Technology, cell phones, and social media were exploding when my older kids were teenagers. And no one knew what to make of it. The information and advice changed as my two youngest kids headed into adolescence. My older three did not seem to have problems managing the newest and most popular technology trends (at least we didn’t know of any problems). Because we felt confident that our hands-off approach worked, we let the last two figure everything out on their own as well. While nothing went too awry (at least we don’t know of any problems), I would do it very differently today.
1. All Phones to Mom at a certain time, well before bedtime. While we can, we should help our teenagers set up healthy habits, including sleep. That means no phones in the bedroom at night.
2. All passwords to devices and social media accounts shared with parents. We will not be nosy unless there is cause for concern. Also, knowing that we have passwords will hopefully temper the risky behavior.
3. More discussions. I’d ask my kids to tell me what apps they are using and ask them to teach how they work. In fact, I just got a lesson in TikTok the other day.
What I would have done differently:
1. I think I would have worried LESS about actual screen time, and more about the TYPE of screen time - I guess I’d have been more judicious and paid more attention to the types of shows they watched and maybe thought more about the actual content.
2. MORE technology in terms of SKYPE and FaceTime with relatives - especially grandparents - more time seeing their faces and interacting about the day to day “stuff.”
3. Clearer guidelines on where and when, maybe? Focused more on the importance of sleep, and while we insisted on having screens OUT of the bedroom, we didn’t have that hour of downtime before bed, etc.
This Your Teen Magazine piece builds on the above insights by reminding parents that it’s never too late to change course, especially where their kids’ mental and physical health is concerned. Re-evaluating your family’s rules and relationship to screens is necessary as you become more tech savvy, your kids grow and technology changes.
Stories about conoravirus are all over the news right now and chances are good that whether or not you’ve talked to your kid about the virus, they know of it. Thus, we highly recommend reading, How to talk to your kids about the coronavirus (and ease their fears).
Think of this as a chance to help develop your kids’ media literacy skills. As the article states:
It’s an opportunity to build upon their media literacy skills, so they can understand why the news is reporting on stuff like this, why it's such a big story, and why seeing it everywhere doesn't necessarily reflect the actual danger to their lives.
The piece goes on to make recommendations for talking to your kids about events, such as the coronavirus, in age appropriate ways:
-Reassure them and meet them where they are. Give them age appropriate information and let their questions guide your responses.
-Realize they may be getting information from unreliable sources (e.g. friends at school, social media, etc.), so don’t ignore or hide current news from them, but instead, take the lead.
-Present information with confidence.
-Highlight the positives of events without covering up or ignoring the negatives.
Tweens & Teens
-Provide reassurance and emotional damage control.
-Put events into context.
-Encourage kids to be skeptical of what they read.
The article gives advice on how to tell if an online story is legit and reminds parents to check their own digital literacy skills, so that we can stay calm and know where to find reliable information.
If adults are falling prey to rumors and viral videos with misinformation, you can understand how challenging it's going to be for kids who have less well-developed literacy and reasoning skills.
To coincide with Safer Internet Day, Snapchat released a promising new feature called Here for You. Snap developed Here for You as a way to begin taking some responsibility for the experiences of their users, many of whom are young (90% of 13-24 year olds use Snapchat).
As this article states, Here for You provides curated content in Snapchat’s clip format: “So if you search topics ranging from depression to thinspo (the “thinsperation” content that can promote anorexia), Snap’s results will intervene with helpful content written by experts.”
With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, ITK sends BIG ❤️❤️❤️ to Snapchat for taking the mental health of their users and the reliability of information shared on their platform seriously!
One of my proudest parenting moment in the last few months was when my eight-year old went over to the landline in the hotel room where we were staying, picked up the receiver, dialed the front desk, and said something along the lines of, “Hello. I’m in room 235, and we can’t get our television to work. Could someone come help us? [Listened for response.] Thank you. Goodbye.”
Of course, no parenting win is every a clear-cut victory, so I should probably include the fact that it was about 11:00 pm and my kid was still awake and trying to watch television. However, let us not get caught up in the details, she executed a polite and productive phone call without any parental intervention.
As this Wall Street Journal story indicates, the art of email and phone conversations is in trouble, and yet, it remains a necessary skill of adult existence. The article highlights the future benefits of parents fostering independence and autonomy in their kids by building and increasing their children’s responsibility for their own communication, including emailing teachers (with an actual subject line, salutation and valediction) and calling friends and relatives.
YOLO, developed by Popshow Inc., is an app that’s used as an add-on to Snapchat. This Daily Mail article highlights the concerns of kids using YOLO. The app allows users to pose questions anonymously. After her 12-year old daughter received obscene suggestions from an anonymous user, one mother described YOLO as “an open door for bullying because you can say whatever you like and you don't know where it comes from.”
With the potential good of Snapchat’s Here for You, YOLO goes in the opposite direction. Be sure to check in with your kids on this one, especially teens/tweens who may already be using it.
A man walked down a street with 99 phones in a wagon. Google Maps thought it was a traffic jam. Did this story pop into anyone else’s news-feed? I thoroughly enjoyed it. High-five to all those out there reminding us to take a moment to think about our reliance on tech, and that sometimes, things on the screen are not what they seem.
Except us! We really are Megan&Amanda, and we rely on you to help us get the word out about ITK. Please subscribe & share, so that we can continue to provide reliable information about parenting in the digital age. Also, make sure to join the ITK Facebook Group.