Responsible Use of Technology ~ Freely Reading

Technology! Blessing or beast?

Technology is ruled by two types of people: those who manage what they do not understand, and those who understand what they do not manage. ~Mike Trout

How and when do you decide to give your child(ren) ACCESS TO THE WORLD?! I don’t know about you, but as a mother and virtual teacher, that unlimited access, without laying down the law, scares the crap out of me. I’m on the front lines of the battle of teaching young people to use technology ethically in schools all over Broward County. I know exactly how students use it and what it has done to the social terrain. There are terrible consequences when teachers and administrators don’t take responsibility for appropriate use, on and off their campuses, because what happens off campus on a student’s cellphone after school will alter who shows up to school everyday. Many schools still don’t get that.

That’s why it is even more crucial that parents join the battle. I absolutely love the info-graphic below. Learn what your digital footprint is, and the ins and the out of minding your manners online.


But don’t stop there!

While we learn our digital footprint, expand our horizons and possibilities, we must also teach ethical use.
In our home, I have two GO TO strategies to monitor my daughters’ use of technology.

1. We abide by a Technology Contract.

My children are not perfect. They’ve broken the contract many times not even realizing how they did it. It causes us to repeat the conversation, the WHY’s and the so WHATs? of “I did (or didn’t) post that.

Here are a few of the excuses in our home:

  1. “It was just a joke!” (Parent response: It’s not funny and here’s why… Digital Footprint discussion ensues.)
  2. “Don’t be so serious, mom!”(Parent response: I’m serious and serial about protecting you. This is very serious and here’s why… Digital Footprint discussion ensues.)
  3.  “I was only defending my friend.” (Parent response: That’s valiant and brave, and still not okay, here’s why….Digital Footprint discussion ensues. )

We’ve witnessed first hand how easy it is for a post to get out of control. When my children violate the contract, I take their devices. Then they have to earn my trust back. Consequences match the offense in our home. Any offense means a loss of the privilege. But how long you revoke the privilege is HUGE, especially with middle and high schoolers.

In our home, a minor offense means the privilege is lost for a short amount of time, ranging from 1-3 hours, and for more serious offenses it is lost for 1-3 days or weeks. Here’s the thing about taking it away permanently or for long periods of time. Just because you take it away, doesn’t mean you took it away from all of his/her friends while at school. You can’t monitor that. Instead, you want to teach them HOW to use it correctly while monitoring their every move. Read on to see how to do that.

2. We use Mama Bear to monitor driving speed, location, and our use of technology, especially social media, like Facebook and Instagram.

So, hopefully you get why taking it away for long periods of time doesn’t solve anything and can only make matters worse. If your child feels the need to sneak and hide it from you, that just may be the biggest clue ever that he/she is trying to tell you something.

Stop and think!  “As you teach, you shall learn.” So says the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles.

What messages are you sending in your reaction to their poor choices?  Plus, even if you take it away in your home, if there’s any way of engaging with friends when you are not around, as soon as your child gets to school or friend’s house, SHE WILL FIND A WAY to use it. When you permanently take their devices, you are shooting yourself in the foot and you are NOT teaching them anything other than your own power can be usurped as soon as you’re not around. You play a dangerous game when you teach intolerance and assert your false power over them. Your child won’t trust you. You’ve ended the conversation, but you didn’t get them to stop using technology. Do you need any more convincing than that? If so, please realize…

The discussions you have about responsible use of technology is where the learning takes place. When your child was a toddler, you didn’t push them to walk faster, or eat with a utensil with zero mess, you guided and coached them. You allowed for multiple disasters and attempts at being right and guess what happened? They learned! Responsible use of technology requires much of the same parenting.

Jason Silva’s video, Social Media and Ambient Intimacy, exposes the truth of why I allow my children to participate in the virtual world. It’s a beautiful world, if we only choose to see the good, and ignore and avoid the bad.

Here’s our family contract.

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What experiences have you had with technology and your children? I’d love to hear all about it.