Being a Child in the Age of Technology

I co-wrote this free, downloadable handbook with Janice Richardson (the creator of Safer Internet Day) for the Council of Europe. The handbook is a guide for parents, educators, children and policy makers. You will also find another free CoE guide, the Internet Literacy Handbook, in the Files section of the Digital Parenting Community group on Facebook. ENJOY!

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Children today live in a rapidly changing world with expanding horizons. Technology has brought not only new experiences for them to enjoy, but a whole new dimension to their daily life in an ethereal world that we know as “being online”. Children and young people, therefore, should have the values, skills, attitudes, skills and knowledge and critical understanding necessary to confront with the challenges posed by the digital technologies and internet as well as to benefit from a wide range of its’ opportunities.

The Digital citizenship education handbook - Being Child in...

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Paris Talks 2018: Parenting, Children and Education in the Digital Age

In 2018, Expats Paris, launched the first conference, Paris Talks, as a platform for provocative and disruptive ideas about the future of humanity.

The conference format is short, powerful, inspiring talks, combined with entertainment and networking opportunities.  Conference issues range from fields of technology, art, and design, to science, environment, humanities and more.

The main focus of the conference is to pose questions about the future, such as, "What does the future look like?"  "Can anyone ever predict what the next century will be like?" 

I was invited to be a speaker at the 2018 Paris Talk and I spoke on the subject of Parenting, Children and Education in the Digital Age. 

Below were the key points for my talk, but as you can see from the video, I went a tad off-script after listening to some of the speakers.  I wanted to really engage the audience and drive home my concerns and support for digital parents: communicate with your children...

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Reasons Why It's Cool if Your Children Learn to Code

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...

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Parenting in the Digital Age: Are You in the Know?

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...

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Mommy, What's a Telephone Booth?

The other day, I was walking with my sons when I gestured to a telephone booth and made some comment.

Imagine my surprise, when my 7 year old, looked at me with a perplexed expression on his face and asked, “Mommy, what’s a telephone booth?”

Aghast, I thought to myself – how could my sonnot know THE favorite clothes changing place of Superman? Or the phone booth / elevator at the end of the long corridor for Agent Maxwell Smart?

The answer came so swiftly, it was astonishing.

My son is a bonafide digital citizen.  He has never used a telephone booth, because smartphones are EVERYWHERE.  And he can swipe with the best of them.

He can toggle between screens.

He can find long-lost cartoon gems, such as Underdog, on a Youtube equipped ipad.

He can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Oops, got a bit carried away there, but you see my point.

Children today are superheroes and they can do some amazing things.  But like every superhero, they...

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Student Viewpoint: Tips for Parents

What do students think parents should know?

I asked one of my former international public law students to give her perspective on Internet and tell parents what SHE thinks they should know. 

Here is what she said:

My name is Susanna and I am a 22 year-old living in San Francisco, CA. My generation was basically raised on social media. We were the first to experiment with Myspace and instant messaging online. I can recall back in 7th grade, creating various screennames because I could not just pick one. I remember I had to wait (not patiently I might add) until my parents made all the phone calls so that I could use our dial-up internet to chat with my friends. These were the days before it was common for a 7th grader to have a cellphone.

Needless to say, the world of social media has continued to grow across all age groups, demographics, and countries. Today, you can literally message or share a photo with someone across the globe in a matter of seconds. That’s the great...

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Back-to-School Digital Habits

Only three weeks into the school year and I feel the burning need to write yet another post about back-to-school digital habits.  Perhaps because I’m thinking that some parents out there are just not feeling the technology.  Or maybe because I think that there are parents out there cowering in kitchens (with a glass of wine) when they think about apps and ipads and games, oh my.

So the good news first: you are raising a child in the 21st century and unless you live in a hermetically sealed, self-contained and self-sustaining pod somewhere, your child will one day inevitably come into contact with technology.  And the simple truth is that technology IS changing education and your child will need to know these skills of the future.

Embrace the technology and get with the program.  (And when I mean embrace the program, I don't mean run out and buy an iPhone 6 plus for your 3 year old. But I do mean, understand that technology can be a good thing if you set...

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Making the e-transition back-to-school safely

As the new school year approaches, parents and caregivers in countries everywhere are gathering school supplies, going through clothes to see what fits and what can last another few months, making appointments for haircuts, getting ready to purchase sturdy shoes and doing all the other things that will make the transition back-to-school go smoothly.

I thought I would chime in with my tips and resources for parents to make the e-transition back-to-school go smoothly too!  What do I mean by “e-transition?” Okay, so I just coined the phrase, but I am talking about the transition from online summer fun with any electronic and/or digital goodies to the online educational use of those same technologies and devices.

So as you make those organizational lists for back-to-school, add this term to your notepad: eTransition. (Please note: these resources are of course available to support you during the school year as well; the goal is to providing understanding on...

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