In honor of Digital Learning Day 2013, we wanted to share some strategies for helping your child acquire the skills to learn online in a safe and healthy way. Read on to learn about digital literacy instruction.
Kids today seem to be born knowing how to swipe a tablet or use a mouse, so it’s not likely you’ll have much trouble teaching your kids the basics of using new technology, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need your guidance. We parents often make self-deprecating jokes about how our kids teach us how to use the latest gadgets, but don’t be fooled. Mother (and father) still know best when it comes to the less-technical side of digital literacy, such as which sites are appropriate and how much time children should spend behind the screen. Here are some tips for helping your child learn and play online while avoiding the downsides of new technologies.
- Play Together
One of the concerns of children playing online games is that it’s often a solitary activity, and there’s the risk that kids can become isolated from family and friends, especially if they really enjoy computer games! Luckily, online games don’t have to be played alone. In fact, your child will likely be thrilled to have you play with her, even if you’re just watching and cheering her on.
- Guide the Way
As you’re playing games together, you can teach your child valuable skills like how to avoid unwelcome advertisements, what not to click on, and how to evaluate specific websites. Like it or not, you will one day have to send your child off in the digital world on his own, so he needs to be prepared. The earlier you teach your child how to play it safe online, the better.
- Limit Tech Time
A decade ago, we only had the television and home computer to consider when monitoring our children’s screen time. Today, keeping tabs on how much media they’re consuming is harder than ever. With laptops, tablets, Smartphones, MP3 players, and even web-connected gaming consoles, it can become overwhelming. Whatever monitoring system you use to keep tabs on your kid’s tech activity, do it with the goal of teaching him to self-monitor.
- Have Fun Offline
Many kids today assume that technology and entertainment go hand in hand, so it’s our job to remind them of the fun things we used to do as kids—you know, back when the only kind of web we knew about was the one inhabited by spiders! Board games, playing cards, and crafts will never be replaced by computers or gadgets, and they can be just as much (if not more) fun.
- Be a Good Example
This last technique may be the hardest to implement, especially if you’re a Facebook or Words With Friends addict fan, but it’s also one of the most important. Kids don’t do well with the whole “do as I say, not as I do” routine, so remember to put down your own devices frequently to engage in a little tech-free family time. Often, these are the most fun and memorable moments for you and your children.
Teaching your child how to navigate our digital world is an ongoing process. New apps and devices are being developed en masse at this very second, so we moms and dads have to learn as we go and work together to stay on top of the latest news and strategies.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on teaching digital literacy, so don’t be shy. Share your ideas below!