Crash Course in Digital Literacy

by Moms With Apps on April 14, 2012

A month ago I watched the “Angry Dad” video, a viral segment showing a Dad’s gun-wielding reaction to his daughter’s Facebook post. Later on the radio, I was reminded about the college student who jumped off a bridge after his roommate streamed video footage over Twitter. At a recent conference, I heard from a YouTube panelist about what (some) teens are doing online.

At that same conference where I saw the cutting videos, Adora Svitak also spoke. She’s the child prodigy (i.e., the TED talk girl) who has written three books and advocates that this “new frontier” of interconnectivity and accessibility is full of potential for young people.

Potential?

Angry Dads and Nasty Letters.

Potential?

Hidden cameras and suicide.

Potential?

Cutting, tears, confusion.

Welcome to the mind of a 40 year old mother, of a child going on nine. We’ve got a new world to face, and it’s not just about parental controls. Are my kids going to find more comfort in their social networks, or in their family? Will they be responsible or destructive digital citizens? How will they derive their self worth at the age of 13? We’ll need a new set of tools, and a new map to navigate.

Our topics of conversation might be something closer too…

  • Before you Log In and create an account, think about what you want your screen name to represent.
  • What types of things do you want to share about yourself? Why?
  • How are you going to feel when your best friend gets more followers than you, or vice versa?
  • If someone writes a comment that makes you feel bad, how are we going to handle it?
  • What are our house rules for screentime? How much time will you need to connect with your friends online? How much do you think is too much? What is not enough? How much involves homework? How much involves socializing?
  • What’s your idea for a family activity this weekend?
  • We’re going on a vacation, how does everyone feel about leaving the plugs at home? If not, then what’s acceptable, and what’s not?
  • What does it mean to have friends that are kind? What friends do you enjoy most? Why? Which friends stress you out? Why?

How do you feel about yourself? “I don’t know.”  Because you should feel great about yourself. You’re incredible, fun to be around, insightful, wise, beautiful, and inventive. And if I had to choose anyone in the entire world to hang out with, I’d choose you.

Lorraine Akemann | Editor | Moms With Apps

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