Digital Family Summit
I met with Jennie Baird this past week who is involved in putting on the Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia this summer. She wanted to know if I would be interested in keynoting the event. Unfortunately I won't be around at the end of June but was delighted to be asked. Needless to say we spent a lot of time talking about raising kids in a digital age and here is what we taliked about.
I would hate to think that social media and the Internet scare parents. I guess that if parents were freaked out about their childs activity online then they are either not having open conversations about living in an online world or they have decided that it is easier to just ignore it.
There is no doubt we are moving at a rapid pace in the world of technology but it is up to us as parents to stay on top of what is going on. Don't become your parents like past generations who dismissed rock and roll, kids media usage is not the end of the world it is the beginning of opening up their minds.
Teaching your kid to live on line is no different than teaching your kid to have good table manners….just different content. So what are the rules? Be as smart as they are. Know what is the latest and greatest. Download apps, play on Pinterest, have a Facebook account and if you are talking to your kids about this stuff they will probably allow you to be friends with them on Facebook as long as you don't comment on their wall. Certainly when they are younger you should pay attention to what they are looking at but the conversations need to start when they are 7 not 13.
Be a parent not a friend. A few things to be taught and that begins with being a role model and having honest conversations and that can be applied to anything. Nothing dies on the Internet. Once you put it out there, it is out there for ever. Be smart about what you post. People forward things on the Internet without you even knowing. Send your friend a secret online, everyone in school will know the secret tomorrow. Don't fight with your friends over text, sometimes things are taken out of context and you have no idea how a person is saying something. If you have an issue, take it offline. Don't break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend online. If someone pings you that you don't recognize, ask them straight away who are you. Don't talk with people you don't know. This all makes common sense. Younger kids need different rules around useage and that sets up the platform for when they become older kids.
Each generation has a different set of challenges. Parents these days have a very different relationship with their kids than generations past. Keep the channels of conversation open and talk about stuff that you see online, spend time discovering all the wonderful sites on the web and talk to your kids about what they are discovering too.
Most important, everyone should take time out to put techhnology aside and sit down to dinner and talk. If you do that then most everything else seems to fall in line.