There is no new topic this week for #YourEduStory, so I'll feature a talk I had today with parents of tweens on digital citizenship.
In talking to various adult populations, I sense fear. Fear is what drives their interactions with their children on digital topics. However, historically, fear only motivates people so far. In regimes ruled on fear, the constituents eventually revolted. And, if they didn't revolt, the citizens where nullified. Rather, in regimes where hope rules, innovation occurs. This is where I differ. Though there a lot of things we should be fearful of in digital settings, we need to "rule" on hope and positivism. In doing this, we will create innovators and inventors.
How do we do that?
You start with having the talk. Not speaking about it and avoiding it all together is not the solution. You would not send your 10-year old (or I hope you wouldn't) loose on a plane to Paris with a credit card because you were afraid of France. In that situation, your fear created a dangerous situation for your children. Fear can lead to danger. Instead, you would send adult assistance with your child.
Digital settings like social media are the same way. We need to "oldify" them. By that, I mean, we need to join various social media that our students and children are on. Though Snapchat serves me no purpose, I have joined it so I can be an adult presence, so I can be aware of what it is. As a parent, why not join with a name such as "allisonsdad." You have now "oldified" Snapchat. You have also taken a dip into the pool your children are swimming in. Don't be afraid. Be hopeful. Be hopeful that we can do good.
Today, I showed a Website called "Sites that do good" with the idea that we focus on the don'ts and the nos rather than on the positive. Have you talked to your children or students about the good they can do in a digital setting? Or, have you only told them of the danger they can get in?
As a result, children continue to enter digital settings with our without their adult counterparts. Regardless of whether you allow digital environments, children will either be exposed to them or enter them. This is the world we live in. Without an talk, children become passive consumers. And, even when they interact, they may not interact face to face. Children's brains indicate they are excellent at scanning for information as a result of digital media. But, they are poor at thinking critically and analyzing information. This skill comes through active consumption.
I encourage you to substitute current digital settings for those involving coding and makerspaces. In these environments, students are learning and they are creating. Provide your children with an alternative. How often do you you tell them not to do something, but don't provide a suggestion of what to do instead?
Trying to be one parent or teacher fighting against a societal trend will not be effective. However, you can make an impact by sharing positive and active choices.
This week kicks off hour of code again. Use this time to try out different digital environments - ones focused on creating and being active consumers.
Today's featured activity is: Google's High Seas Activity (from CS First). This year's themes are Star Wars and Minecraft - what better topics to get student interested! Check out our school's site for more resources on Hour of Code activities you can try at home or in the classroom as well as ways to incorporate makerspaces into the classroom - a far more positive and creative approach on technology.