Instagram has put together a great resource for parents who would like to learn more about its ultra-popular app and also keep up with what their kids are up to with this social media tool. Know How To Talk With Your Teen About Instagram: A Parent’s Guide is available both as a PDF and in a web-based form.
The guide does a great job highlighting how parents can support their students in the following areas:
- Managing Privacy
- Managing Interactions
- Managing Time
A second great resource is a new Common Sense Media Report titled Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences.
A few of the key findings from this report are as follows:
- Only a very few teens say that using social media has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves; many more say it has a positive effect.
- Social media has a heightened role— both positive and negative—in the lives of more vulnerable teens.
- Social media is an important avenue of creative expression for many teens.
As both a parent and an educator, I encourage others to take a little bit of time to read through these two resources. The Common Sense Media report on teen social media use is extremely valuable because the feedback comes directly from teens. Instead of speculating on the habits and the impact of these habits on our students, we have valuable insights directly from the source. The graphic below is just one example.
I have two books I am trying to cram in during the vacation as I prepare for our next Parent Technology Night on Tuesday January 14. The topic – “Parenting in the Digital Age” – is a difficult for so many of us because we cannot simply revert to some of the tactics that our own parents used due to the fact that all of this technology simply did not exist. Whenever I am involved in conversations surrounding technology and our children, the only thing that rubs me the wrong way is responding to people who want to make this something that is either good or bad. The fact of the matter is that it can be either, depending on the motivations of the person utilizing the technology.
My first book recommendation for those who are techno-skeptics (and everyone else for that matter) is Clive Thompson’s Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For The Better. I wrote a bit yesterday about the need for us to reinforce with our children the importance of not partaking in the streams of negativity that can easily be found online. Thompson points to examples throughout this book of how the internet is being used positively to further our intelligence both individually and collectively.
“At their best, today’s digital tools help us see more, retain more, communicate more. At their worst, they leave us prey to the manipulation of the toolmakers. But on balance, I’d argue, what is happening is deeply positive.” Clive Thompson
Stay tuned for some more on Thompson’s book and some thoughts on the second book I am reading, The App Generation by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.
Dealing with digital devices in the hands of our children is a constant struggle for so many parents. How long should we allow them to be online? How can we best monitor their activity? Should we just ban certain websites or apps?
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend some time thinking about these issues. With this in mind, I am looking forward to our next Parent Technology Night in January (see information below) where we will have an open discussion about these questions and others.
While there is a great deal to talk about here, my takeaway is the following:
“The internet is a part of contemporary public life. Engagement with technology is key to helping youth understand the world around them.”
Over the next month and half, I plan on reading two different books to further my thinking on this important topic: