The Teacher is Talking: Are your Children Cyber Savvy?!

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By Leslie Lindsay

Recently, at Curriculum Night for my 2nd grader, her teacher whipped out a pink-clad iPad and said, “You know, this isn’t required [yet], but sometimes I will pull out my personal iPad and use it with the class.”  She went on to say that she is very “digitally-aware,” and plans to use multi-modal technology in the classroom. 

Humm…what happened to chalk and blackboard?  (on a sidenote, when I was in school–in the Stoneages, apparently–we had brown boards and yellow chalk, which at the time was seen as ‘progressive,’ as it was softer on the eyes.  We had Encyclopedia Brittanica, too).  Even the fact that whiteboards are now the norm in most classroom settings still seems “new” to me. 

But, you see this digital thing isn’t going away.  In fact, it’s just getting started.  And for a luddite like me, I am well, baffled.  I like actual things–like books I can hold and periodicals I can flip through.  But, alas I must keep up with the times.  Another thought for antiquated learning:  many schools are eliminating cursive handwriting from the curriculum and favoring instead keyboarding.  I beg to differ:  both are essential in today’s world.  But, back to the original question:  is your kid cyber savvy? 

So, what can you do to make sure your kids are cyber/tech savvy?  Here are some ideas:

For Kids….

  • Make sure never to share personal information such as address, telephone number, or the name of their school.  Ever.  If someone asks, kids must first run it by their parents.
  • If something makes you/your child feel uncomfortable–at all–they are to tell an adult right away.
  • Strangers are on the Internet, too.  Don’t talk to them.  If someone wants to “meet” your child–oh my!  Never. 
  • Pictures and videos–never post without an adult’s permission. 
  • The Internet is not the place to be a bully!  If you won’t/or can’t say it to their face, don’t send it in an email or Facebook post.
  • Remember, the computer is another study tool.  Use it with your children.  Have it in a visible location, such as a family room, kitchen, or other “community” location.

For Parents…

  • Make some limits to computer use.  Perhaps for homework only.  Maybe only 30 minutes a day to send and respond to email/social networking (depending on the ages of your children)
  • Remind your children that there are still lots of really great resources that don’t come from a screen.  How about old maps, photos, books, periodicals…even face-to-face communication can do wonders. 
  • Add parent blocks/locks to certain sites you aren’t comfortable having your children visit.  Most programs are very user-friendly.
  • Work with your child.  Don’t let the computer become a babysitter.

For more information, please visit The Family Online Safety Institute.(FOSI)  http://www.fosi.org/

[This post inspired by an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8.05.12]

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