When we talk about digital citizenship, we’re talking about a way of learning and living responsibly in an online world that stretches across communities both educational and domestic. Healthy tech habits can begin anytime as it’s never too late to begin practicing them. As Carl Hooker affirms in the ISTE article 6 Ways Parents Can Foster Good Technology Habits, a great place for such practices to begin is in the home.
Carl Hooker is the director of innovation and digital learning at Eanes ISD in Austin, Texas and the author of ISTE’s Mobile Learning Mindset series. He is well aware of the influence of social media in the lives of our digital kids, as well as the disconnect it can often give rise to between kids and their parents:
“With technology, we feel like we are in the dark and sometimes choose to turn a blind eye to the interactions of our kids online. But just like driving a car or eating a healthy diet, we need to be there to coach and guide our kids through this world.”
What are parents to do, then, when it comes to passing on healthy tech habits to our young ones? How do we best keep them safe and happy in the virtual domains they’ve come to adore? Part of the secret comes with formulating fair guidelines, maintaining a balance, and shifting responsibility for adopting good technology values to our kids.
6 Healthy Tech Habits for Our Children
In his article, Carl shares a list of 6 ideal approaches parents can use for fostering healthy tech habits in their young ones. A summary of each one is below, and we encourage you to read his full article on ISTE for more insights.
- Give Them Room: Hooker shares an analogy here from a student of his, who said, “Social media is like water; you can either teach us to swim or we will drown.” Teaching healthy tech habits means striking a balance between guidance and growth.
- The 24 Hour Rule: The basic idea here is that, no matter what, kids will sometimes make mistakes with social media. This gives them a grace period of 24 hours to come and tell you about it without fear of any consequence. This is a perfect way to use teachable moments with social media and to allow children to learn from their mistakes in a nurturing and proactive setting.
- Help With Household Rules: Here your kids have input into the rules for using tech and social media in your house as well as any penalties for breaking them. This fosters responsibility and critical thinking while ensuring children will be more likely to adhere to guidelines they participated in forming.
- Kids as Teachers: Our kids know more about tech than we do most times. Putting them in the driver’s seat and letting them guide you in how to use it is a great practice for fostering independent and responsible thinking and awareness.
- Avoid Oversharing: Carl once asked his learners, “If you wanted me to tell your parents something about social media, what would it be?” Their most common response was that adults share too much online. Looks like we’re guilty of it as well—yet another teachable moment!
- Balance it Out: A lot has been said in defense of maintaining equilibrium between how much time we spend in the virtual and physical worlds. There’s plenty of room in a balanced lifestyle for both.