Resources and discussion for parents, teachers and young people navigating the evolving landscape of the digital world.

Friday, May 1, 2015

FOMO and the "Cellphone Bypass"

I've had a revelation! In the past several weeks, since our parent workshop, I've been mulling over this idea of what I have come to call the "cellphone bypass." When our children have the means to communicate directly with each other (through their phones or other personal devices), home phones are pretty irrelevant. Many people don't even have a common family phone line any more! So no longer is there a person calling your house, asking to speak to an adult about an upcoming event, or even asking a child directly about something while they are on the phone in a common space where the parental units are likely to overhear the conversation and perhaps ask, "What's going on? Is this something I should know about?" Nothing earth-shattering in this realization, obviously, but I'm having a personal epiphany here...indulge me.

Until today, I have been considering the "bypass" mostly from the perspective of the grumpy mom who is the last to find out when her kids are planning something that no one has bothered to tell her about, or give her any details that she considers ESSENTIAL to life planning. And as the keeper of the family calendar, and as the Director of Driving Operations, I need to be informed. Gone are the days when invitations to parties arrived by mail, when calls came to the house and adults exchanged information. In many cases, kids are attempting to just "handle it" on their own because they can easily talk to each other through their individual devices. I hope I'm not the only parent who finds this annoying a lot of the time.

Today, however, I had a different thought about it. Adults perpetually lament teens' attachment to their phones ("Can you put that DOWN for a few minutes, please?") and the myriad drawbacks we see to their constant connection to others through a screen. The term FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is an ailment afflicting people everywhere who stay constantly connected because they don't want to miss anything!

Well guess what? I have it. Not the kind that makes me want to check my own phone constantly, because I can take it or leave it, and I'm often quite happy to leave it. But I have the kind of FOMO that resents the cell phone bypass because it cuts me out of the process. I'm out of the loop. Plans are getting made without me. I'm essential to fulfilling those commitments and making sure the plans actually happen, but I don't get brought in until late in the process. And I bluster and complain and whine about it...but what I really feel? 

A little sad, if I'm honest. 

I still want to be involved and included. A part of my kids' lives. The way I used to be when they were little and everything went through me first. ACK! When did I become this person?

#FOMO #thestruggleisreal

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Parenting in a Digital World, 2015

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Wow, it's been a while since we've written a post here! I suppose that speaks to how busy we have been this school year, but we are working to get back into a regular writing routine, I promise. There is so much to share and discuss!

Last night we hosted our annual Parenting in a Digital World workshop, and I left feeling super energized and excited to tackle future initiatives, share more stories and research with the families in our community, and extremely grateful to the folks who came, participated, and contributed wholeheartedly to an excellent discussion of current issues facing our kids (and us, too!) with an eye toward creating a more pleasant, kind, and educational digital world. It was great!

Here in one neat spot are all the resources from the presentation, as well as a few links to stories we brought up as examples, more statistics, and helpful sites you might want to check out. If you have any questions or requests for us to address particular topics, please leave a comment!

Our slide presentation:

SMAHRT Slide Presentation

Texting/Emoji Quiz (just for fun)

The Resource List (downloadable document)



Online Resources:

Adolescent Development:

Media Conversation Hooks

  • “what’s your favorite way to communicate with your friends?”
  • “what does _____ do that ______ doesn’t?”
  • (insert names of two favorite apps) 
  • “what’s hard to say face-to- face that is easier to say online?”
  • “what did you learn about someone online that they have never told you face-to-face?”
  • “how do you show friends how you feel online? What happens if someone misunderstands it?”
  • “what topics are too important to you to talk about online?”
  • “what’s the funniest status update you’ve ever shared?”
  • “what do you wish you hadn’t shared?”(or, I once shared this, and I wish I hadn’t. has that ever happened to you?”)
  • “how do you help a friend who suddenly has a bunch of snarky comments on something they posted?”
  • “what do you do when you feel lonely?”
  • “wow. I just learned that college students prefer to learn from textbooks instead of e-books. Why do you think that is?”
  • “what app did you used to use that you don’t any more. What changed?”

Lindy West interviews her "troll" on NPR

Other Statistics from Different Sources (Document)

Linked here is a list of stats compiled from two different sources. The first is from an upcoming documentary from The Representation Project called The Mask You Live In (trailer below). I do a great deal of work in my Digital Citizenship class around stereotypes in the media, and more specifically we look at gender stereotypes, identity, and the roles kids assume in their interactions with others. I firmly believe that a huge part of the "trouble" kids get into with technology--their language, behavior, sexting, exploring that "inappropriate" content they all mention--could be avoided if we were willing to have more open conversations with them around sexuality, emotions, self-esteem, group think, fitting in, and all the angst-y things associated with their adolescence. To that end, we have looked deeply at the messages our society and the media send us about who we are supposed to be, act like, and look like, especially through the lenses of masculinity and femininity in our culture.  After producing Miss Representation, about the portrayal of women in the media, filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom decided to look at the other side of things and try to answer the question, "What is happening to our boys?" There are some shocking and heartbreaking statistics that come out of her work and the research behind it. After sharing the film's trailer and a few of the statistics with students, I've had several boys express a keen interest in seeing the film and spending more time discussing the issues it raises. Charles Wright has purchased the rights to screen the film, and the accompanying curriculum, but we are still waiting to receive it. It should be here in May sometime! We will keep you posted. The film as it was originally produced is for a 16+ audience. The educational version we have purchased will include a PG-13 version that will be more appropriate for us to use. I plan to write a more thorough post on all that I have learned since I dove into "Boy World." Stay tuned...

The second set of stats come from Dr. Elizabeth Englander, who hosted a webinar online that I recently attended, sponsored by the Digital Citizenship group at Common Sense Media and Her book is in the list of resources above. Great stuff from her team here!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is it YOURS to Share?

Trying to make #THINKY happen   
I'm constantly looking for ways to reinforce the concepts of Digital Citizenship in ways that my students can remember. A lot of that has to do with repeating myself over and over and over...and over. Twice.

When the "T.H.I.N.K." poster came along, it really resonated with kids and they "got it" when it came to understanding what they were supposed to think ABOUT. It actually inspired S.C.R.A.P. as our definition of digital citizenship, because we like acronyms, and they are easier to remember than big, long definitions. Now, thanks to this repetition, I can say the word SCRAP and kids know what I am talking about right away. (Well, most of the time.)

So some things have happened to make us revisit the concept of thinking before you (fill in the blank) when online. In the modern age of sharing, sharing, and sharing some more, we thought something was missing here. Something to do with consent, positive digital footprints, and being a good friend. We were asking ourselves quite often, "is this mine to share?" Is it my story to tell? Do I have permission to show others this photo? Wouldn't I appreciate being asked first before someone shares a picture of me? With that in mind, we decided to add a Y to our think posters. After all, this is an essential question to ask before we post anything, every bit as important as truth and kindness.


Pass it on. Make it happen.