AUTHOR: Joanne Cammish
To understand the digital world: go to the source.
If you want to better understand a game or app that's aimed at young people, it's probably worth taking the time to find out about it from the player at source.
I decided to interview my nephew to get his thoughts on Minecraft. He is a reliable source as he been playing Minecraft for the last 5 years and from here on in will be referred to as Minecraft Guru or MG. (He will really love reading that title.)
How did you discover Minecraft?
MG: My 'on trend' grandad (gaming grandad?!) introduced me to Minecraft a few years after its release in May 2009.
Should parents let their children play Minecraft?
MG: YES. Definitely yes.
What do you believe that parents need to know about Minecraft?
AUTHOR: Joanne Cammish
I have developed a very recent interest in online safety and parenting. The interest in technology in general has stemmed from the beginning of my teaching career in 2000.
During my career, in and amongst other roles, I have always been drawn to Information Technology. I might not have understood all the complicated tech in’s and out’s, but I understood enough to recognise that I.T. would be very significant in the future. Obviously, I couldn’t have predicted just how big. In my most recent role as Computing subject leader, I spent months cramming up on my knowledge, policies, the new curriculum and all associated paraphernalia. And yet, there is always more to learn.
In parallel with my career in education, I also became a parent. I think that most of you would agree that parenting is without a doubt the most important and hardest ‘job’ while also being the most consuming and rewarding. I have been fortunate to be able to spend...
The key to digital parenting is communication.
A digital parent . . .
And here are some excellent resources to keep you motivated:
Family Online Safety Institute: 7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting
Internet Matters: Online Issues: Learn About It, Talk About It, Deal With It
Looking for something more? Shoot me an email at...
Internet of Toys and Tech Gifts: mind-boggling devices for the Digital Parent.
The Internet of Things is relatively new, but the results are everywhere: intelligent heaters that warm up your home before you arrive, refrigerators that order juice and eggs when you've run out; fitness trackers that beep when you've achieved your activity goal for the day and more. It is clear that the Internet of Things has a fantastic objective of efficiency and obtaining results, however, smart Digital Parents need to be aware of the issues so that can act accordingly.
All of this tech stuff is well and good, but what happens when your child's toys can talk back to your child? Or that police car toy is fitted out with a webcam?
The tech industry is steadily cranking out mind-boggling devices, but notions of security and privacy are not foremost on their minds. So it's up to you as a Digital Parent to roll up your sleeves and dive into the subject matter - preferably before handing...
When school is out, there is a tendency to take lots of digital breaks.
With long weekends or school vacation my boys are ecstatic, but I am a little bit less so. What begins as good intentions - "we'll go to museums, we'll do arts and crafts, we'll play board games as one big, happy family" - too often ends as, "let's watch the iPad." (Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as this article will show you.)
So while I put some measures in place to keep my boys alert and interested, I thought I would share them with you.
Don’t ban all Internet-related activities. If your family is like mine, you may have a mini-revolt on your hands. Use the downtime to look at some things together online – if you’re on a ski vacation, how about checking out the history of skiing? National Geographic puts out some beautiful and interactive history lessons on skiing. A long weekend vacation with stormy skies? Why not check out some of Huffington Posts...
Okay so first let's address the big elephant in the room. No, I do not know how to code.
No, I'm not a programmer, but I do know my way around Wordpress (nod to Alannah Moore, DIY website building guru). No, I don't think coding is CRUCIAL to become a good digital citizen, but I like the following comparison:
I don't know how a car runs, but I can drive one rather well. And when I was a young girl, my father made sure that I knew how to drive a stick-shift, change a tire and check the oil.
So while I don't think your children need to know how a computer works, I think it would be dandy if they had a few pointers. And just like you exposed them to piano, judo, art classes, ballet and so on, why not expose them to a coding class or two? It may become a life passion or it may become a useful tool - like knowing how to drive a stick-shift.
Coding is for everyone.
Boys and girls are encouraged to begin coding as the world is becoming more and digital and it pays to...
I'm feeling nostalgic for the days when we crammed into a photo booth and took silly photos.
Or we pulled out a Polaroid to get wild. Yep, those days are long gone.
Today teens are using their smartphones with integrated cameras in ways that would make parents cringe. So get ready, for the cringe factor as I fill you in on teens and sexting - and the consequences. And a quick alert, sexting is not a new phenomenon; it has existed for several years years now.
Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit photos, videos or text messages through mobile phones.
Teens are sharing sexually risqué photos and/or messages online and oftentimes using apps like Snapchat, VaporChat, Cyber Dust to hide their behavior. (Those apps cause the photos to "disappear" after a certain period of time, but they do not preclude screenshots from capturing the photo.)
Amazingly, teens are sexting even though they "openly admit that they know it's wrong to post these sexual photos, they feel...
Digital natives, digital immigrants, digital parenting, digital, digital, digital.
Just what does all of this stuff mean anyway?
Digital natives are children who are born in the digital age, this age of technology. They are children who spend a few minutes holding a tablet and smartphone and feel no fear or trepidation in manipulating the technology. They swipe, pinch, poke without always understanding what they are doing, but with the confidence that something is happening on the screen. According to Marc Prensky, "our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet."
Digital immigrants are people who were born before the advent of technology. It is a phrase also coined by Prensky in 2001 used to describe the "generation of people who did not grow up in the digital age." Again Prensky describes it perfectly by saying: "Those of us who were not born into the digital world but...
Tech Tale: How does a family who loves technology manage tech-free dinners?
Nathalie is the mother of an 8 year old boy and a 13 year old girl. Her children love technology and since they do their homework and household chores with minimal yelling, Nathalie hasn't imposed any strict limits.
But Nathalie has noticed something that is really displeasing: eating out with technology. Initially when the children were younger, Nathalie and her husband would go out to dinner and in order to have a bit of quiet time so that the adults could talk, Nathalie would hand over her smartphone while her husband did the same.
Little by little the family outings became less and less family and more and more tech and Nathalie now wants to recapture the family togetherness, but she's worried that it's too late. Her kids are too used to gaming and texting while waiting for their dinners to arrive.
How can Nathalie re-create the family dinners that she remembers when she was young? (You know, the family...
I think the question I am asked most by parents is “How can I set screen limits – that work?”
Sometimes the parents explain further in no uncertain terms: “How the hell do I get my kid away from that gaming console?” or “I want my iPad back and I’m sick of negotiating for it” or “If I have to scream one more time to get the kids out from in front of the TV and to the dinner table, I can not be held responsible for my actions.”
If any of those scenarios seem familiar to you, read on. I’m going to share some of the parenting tips that I have heard, read or implemented and hope that something resonates for you.
Screen Tickets: Give your child 2 tickets a day, each worth half an hour. Once they’ve cashed them in, that’s it. No more TV. No more tablet. No more gaming console. You define the rules for your tickets. Get creative, perhaps a yellow ticket for TV time; red ticket for tablet; green ticket for gaming...
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