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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Black History Month: Notable Achievements In STEM

The month of February is coming to a close and I wanted to end Black History month with one final celebration of the successes of Black Americans in the United States.

As an African American lawyer, law professor and eSafety consultant, I thought it would be timely to write a post on Black achievements in technology and science to inspire all children of color.  Several Black tech pioneers laid the groundwork for technological advances that are proving beneficial in the digital environment as well.

Here is a sample list of remarkable achievements:

  • Lewis Latimer (inventor and draftsman) helped draft the patent for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and he worked for Thomas Edison as well.
  • Mae C. Jemison (Astronaut) was the first African American woman space traveler in 1992 aboard the shuttle Endeavor.
  • Dr. Shirley Jackson (theoretical physicist) was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in nuclear physics at MIT.
  • Marie Van Brittan Brown...
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Black Friday for Parents in the Digital Age

Hey Digital Parents,

Let me ask you a question, what do Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all have in common?

Give up?

Digital Literacy and Critical Thinking.  I know, right.  You weren't expecting that.  Let me walk you through this.

Thanksgiving: every year, millions of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with family get-togethers across the country where screens are as familiar as turkey and pumpkin pie.  This Thanksgiving, (no parent-shaming here), enjoy your tech, but throw in some limits and opt for more thanks and more giving together.  Critically think about how you want your family to remember the holidays; think balance and boundaries; think about storytelling and creating memories.  (If you need ideas for device-free dinners, check out these tips from Common Sense Media.)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: you see where I'm going now.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday will tempt you with the latest, greatest deals in tech...

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A Checklist to Consider Before Giving Tech Gifts

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...

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Should I Buy an Apple Watch for My Child?

I didn't stand in line to buy my Apple watch, but I admit that I ordered it online on the very first day.  Almost 6 weeks later, I pulled it out of the gorgeous Apple box and I sighed with pleasure. The watch was fabulous looking.

But being an eSafety expert is serious business, so I shook off the giddy feelings and got to work with my burning question: Is the Apple watch safe for kids?

First technology is a tool. It can work for good and unfortunately it can be used for bad. Think of a kitchen knife or a pair of scissors.  Good things to cut with, but dangerous in the wrong hands or with the wrong intent.  Same thing for technology.

So let's take a peek at the Apple watch. It's definitely a tool. It's a watch for goodness sake. A very, ultra, über, super cool watch, but it's a watch.  Beyond all the cool things that it can do (visit your local Apple dealer as I won't go into those details here), let's look at how the Apple watch can be used in the wrong...

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Buying a Mobile Phone for Your Child

I won’t give you a lecture on what age is the appropriate age for purchasing a mobile phone for your child, but I will point you to a fantastic resource where you can ask yourself the following questions posed by Common Sense Media:

  • Are your kids pretty independent?
  • Do your children need to be in touch for safety reasons?
  • Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
  • Do you think they’ll use a cell phone responsibly  – for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  • Can they adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Will they use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others? (Source: Common Sense Media)

Once you decide that your child is ready for a cell phone, you need to educate yourself and your child and ensure that “protection” and “phone” go together.

Read up on mobile phone safety tips to keep your...

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