My school does student-led conferences. People-watching at parent conferences is one of my favorite life activities.
Of course no one wants that crazy teacher who just stares at you from across the room, so I’ve got to be clever about it. What I’m listening for is how the student communicates, and how the parents react. There are few things better than listening to a student and parent have honest conversations about stuff that matters: Friends, learning, struggles and options for success.
At some point in the evening conversations inevitably turn to technology. The usual setup for this conversation usually involves technology as a:
- Carrot for good work.
- Stick for bad work.
- Lightening rod to distract from all the other issues.
Often we go all or nothing: Tech is wonderful and my kid has everything or tech is the devil and should be burned publicly. A balanced approach is key to healthful tech habits.
Tech: A Touchy Subject
There are several areas people really don’t want to hear differing ideas:
- local sports
Generally people already have made up their minds on the subject. Yet the two areas I get asked about the most are:
- How to get a student to cooperate at home (parenting)
- What to do about ____ technology (gaming, social media, cell phone, etc)
Parents: Imperative Role Models
The rap group Beastie Boys sums up the dilemma of parenting as imperfect people:
“My Dad Caught Me Smoking and he Said ‘No Way!’ That hypocrite smokes two packs a day”.
Even a parent who smokes will tell their kids to never smoke. Why? Parents want to raise kids who avoid their mistakes. We learn from mistakes and try to teach the next generation how to live better and avoid the hurt we’ve experienced.
The same is true in technology. As parents we need to model the behavior we want to see. Sometimes that means intentional change in our lives in order to give the gift of a good example.
4 Great Tech Resources
Here are four great sites to help you navigate as a parent in the tech world:
- Gamer Revolution: You’re here! This site is designed for parents to provide high-quality information and support meaningful conversations and decisions regarding healthful and balanced technology use.
- ESRB: The Entertainment Software Rating Board is a must-visit when looking into the games your child plays. They are very straight-forward, unbiased and specific.
- Common Sense Media: A national leader for resources on technology, games, music and social media. Beware that some of their product reviews (such as video game) are done based on public opinion, not a single informed reviewer. This wiki-approach to reviews can lead to odd outcomes on some games depending on how the masses feel (and you may not agree with the masses for your child).
- Plugged In Media: Focuses on reviews for parents and youth to make wise personal and family-friendly decisions about movies, videos, music, TV, games and books. Their reviews are solid and always worth a gander.
More resources for balanced and healthful technology:
- Flint and Iron: A non-profit dedicated to sparking positive purpose in youth. Flint and Iron hosts workshops to equip parents with the information they need to trust their instincts.
- 3 Truths about Technology Addiction