Monday, December 1, 2014

Part 1: Developing Responsible Technology Users

In my current position at Prince of Peace Christian School,  I frequently receive questions from parents on what they can do to help their children learn how to use technology more responsibly. While I certainly do not have all the answers for this issue, the points I am going to discuss in this series are ones that I have found to be particularly important for teaching children how to be responsible and productive technology users. The information I intend to share has been developed through my experiences over the past thirteen years working with students and their parents as both a classroom teacher and instructional technology director/coach.

The first and most important area for all parents to consider in raising responsible technology users is the example they are demonstrating on a daily basis. Parents must continually ask the question: "What am I modeling for my children?" More simply, if you as a parent desire your children to be responsible users of technology, YOU must model the behaviors and habits you expect out of your children. More often than not, children will follow the lead of their parents and the use of technology is no exception. When parents approach me with concerns regarding poor, undesirable and/or inappropriate uses of technology among their children, the above-mentioned question is usually the first one I ask as it is the most important starting point for change. 

In attempting to raise responsible technology users, parents must also consider their general attitudes towards technology that are being conveyed to the children. A great example of this involves parents who are overly fearful or reluctant to use technology. When I encounter students who seem hesitant to embrace new technology and/or have limited technology skills for their age and maturity level, I typically find that they have parents who model these same behaviors and attitudes. 

Another common situation I encounter is parents who are overly permissive and oblivious regarding the ways in which their children utilize technology. In contrast to the first example, children in this situation tend to be relatively savvy with technology because their parents provide them with all the latest devices; however, they rarely have any idea how to utilize these tools responsibly since little to no guidance is being provided by the parents. Neither approach is effective but both are good examples of how children follow the lead of their parents. With all that being said, it is critical that parents carefully consider whether the example they are modeling, in terms of technology use, is positive or negative.

As we continue to discuss important issues involving the development of responsible technology users, I encourage you to check out and bookmark the dynamite resource below provided by Common Sense Media. This is one of the absolute best resources to help parents stay educated and prepared to handle the the most common technology issues affecting children. 

Common Sense Media Family Toolbox

In the next post, we will discuss some best practices for setting appropriate guidelines and boundaries that are helpful for developing children who are responsible technology users. 

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