August 20, 2013

Your Tech-Savvy Kid, Tips For Parents Keeping Up With The Digital Generation

Do you ever wonder how a toddler can pick up a cell phone, or another mobile device, and easily navigate the device without ever having to be instructed on how to use it? Or how students can multi-task with technology by texting, social media surfing, and watching television all at the same time? Our children are digital natives, and we are digital immigrants. 

They are being raised in a technology driven society that provides them with quick and easy access to just about anything at anytime. Parents can no longer use the, “I’m too old to learn tech” excuse, because technology is here to stay, and your kids are using it. As parents it is our job to protect our children from the dangers that exist, and help them develop healthy tech habits, and become responsible digital citizens. Not sure how? Try these:

Tip 1: Talk about it:

Parents ask their children where they are going and who they are going with before they leave the house. This same approach should be used when your child is using technology.  If your child is talking on their cell phone, texting, or on facebook, talk to them about whom they are interacting with and the conversations they are having. Explain to them the dangers that exist online, and discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Empower them with the knowledge to protect their personal information, and to be aware of their digital footprint. Talk about cyberbullying, and remind them that what they post has an impact on others whether good or bad, and just because you shutdown your computer, doesn’t make it go away. Teach them the T.H.I.N.K. acronym when deciding what’s appropriate to share online. (T- is it true? H- is it helpful? I- is it Inspiring? N- is it necessary? K- is it Kind?) A great resource to help kids learn healthy ways to use the Internet is  This site has useful information for kids, teens and adults.

Tip 2: Put Your Game Face On!
You may not know everything there is to know about technology, but your child doesn’t have to know this. Make an effort to understand the basics of technology. The simplest answer I can give you if you don’t understand something, Google it! Educate yourself and stay informed about new devices, and websites. Talk to their teachers, and other parents about things kids are doing online. Become a part of this ever-expanding digital world by exploring technology for yourself. You will be surprised what you might find.

Tip 3: Set Rules! Establish ground rules for using the computer and or mobile devices like cell phones, and tablets. Create a public area for using technology devices so that you can monitor exactly what your child is doing. Do not allow your child to be locked in their room with a computer. This is a very unhealthy practice. You should also set daily time limits for using technology, and require them to share with you their usernames and passwords for their social media accounts. Create a technology contract or a Family Media Agreement together. Always be aware of your child’s social media activities, and know whom your kids are interacting with. Common Sense Media
( is a non-profit organization that provides practical tools and curricula for parents to support the digital generation. 

Tip 4: Empower yourself and be proactive! Set parental controls; use apps like handy filter, and computer monitoring software. Periodically view browsing history, chat logs, and text messages. I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are many free cell phone apps like SMS Backup and Restore for android, or xillisoft for ios,  that allow you to backup cellphone text messages so you can read them online. I can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor the conversations, and activities your children are having online, and address your concerns with them immediately. You won’t be able to police everything they do, but you can have a discussion with them, and provide them with knowledge, and wisdom to make smart decisions when you are not around.

Tip 5: Learn through Technology!

Technology is more than gaming, and web browsing.  It can be a positive learning tool. This digital world we live in allows our kids to easily create, explore, collaborate, share ideas, and discover learning opportunities that weren’t accessible 20 years ago. There are more powerful technology tools today than in any generation before. Allow your kids to use their tech knowledge to create real-world learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom. Ask your kids to show you the wonderful things they can create with digital media like, sharing a class digital project with a family member who lives in a different city, or skyping with a classroom in another part of the globe.

As your child’s first educator, you can equip them with the 21st century skills they need to thrive and compete in a global society. Starting with these five tips will help equip you with the resources you need to help your child make smart decisions in the digital world where they live, work, and play.

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About the author:

Patricia J. Brown is a wife, and mother of four sons. She has advanced degrees in Educational Technology, and has been an educator, and technology integration specialist in the Saint Louis area for 13 years. For more information about her work in educational technology, visit her website at or her blog