CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Parenting in the Digital Age

Meltdown in Aisle 5: Top Parenting Tips From Multiple Mayhem Mamma

How to Parent in an Age of Technology

Parenting in the Digital Age, an ongoing topic on this blog was the basis of discussion for my opinion on CBC Radio’s Fresh Air program.

Some of areas that were covered included the pervasiveness of social media and our kids, the future of technology as it affects our children and, of course, technology in the classroom.

Some of the questions asked are noted below, with my thoughts.

1. Technology is all around us and most people would say that’s a good thing. How much potential for harm IS there when you combine kids with technology?
Just type any simple term into google and you’re in for a big surprise. Without sounding alarmist, the worldwide web IS a potential web of scary and undesirable information…if we don’t monitor and protect our kids from what’s out there.

2.  What do you feel are the biggest technological threats to our kids?
The the speed and reach at which information can be shared is troubling, not to mention the ability to potentially smear someone’s character, name and potential job opportunities through the ease of online sharing. The ability for kids to remain anonymous while doing this just adds to the issue.

3. How can parents find common ground with their kids in this digital age…especially if the parents aren’t tech-savvy?
Know what your kids are doing. Sit down with them and find out what they’re interested in when it comes to tech. If your kids show a propensity for technology, it’s our responsibility as parents to meet them on at least the same level and know what they’re doing. At the end of the day, we’re the parents and in terms of tech use, we can and should limit it if we feel that our kids are using it excessively.

4. What allowing digital devices such as smartphones and ipads to be used by students in classrooms? Where do we draw the line?
There’s a new normal out there. Kids expect to have access to information. That’s not the problem. The problem is equality of opportunity as well as the propensity for unfair advantages for some kids who have the better tech toys. Yes, allow it in the classroom but only if all kids have the same opportunity.

5. What about the growing trend of cyber-bullying? How can parents put a stop to this type of behaviour?
Again, it comes back to both values and knowing what your kids are doing. The crux of the issue is kids feeling that it’s okay to make someone else feel bad, to tease or torment them, regardless of the medium. Cyberbullying is a natural extension of what kids have been doing all along, unfortunately. Of course, instilling the right values in your children that will make them realize that such behaviour is never right; as well being on top of the latest technology and knowing what your kids are doing online. Are they using social media? Do they have a Facebook or Twitter account? What are they sharing on YouTube? These are all questions that parents should ask and know the answers. When parents are tuned in to what their children are doing online, it’s a lot more difficult for the kids to venture into cyberbullying territory.

6. Do you think that this trend towards everything digital will reach a critical point where it might reverse itself and we’ll be back to the days of pen and paper?
No. Digital technology is here to stay. We’ve all been spoiled by it – adults and kids alike – so we best just accept this reality and learn how to navigate within this new world order.

7. What do you see as the next wave or trend when it comes to technology and kids? What should parents prepare themselves for?
I think it will be in the area of education. The way that our children learn, the traditional school model that we follow is evolving as we speak. The growing popularity of sites such as The Kahn Academy and other online learning portals are forcing educators to look at how they are going to get the required information to our kids. Children expect to receive information digitally, and school is no different. I believe we’re going to see a radical shift in how we offer lessons and learning to our kids. It’s just a matter of time.

**UPDATED December 2017**

A recent episode of the Parenting Then and Now Podcast covers this topic in detail with technology expert, Marc Saltzman. Check out the full episode here:

What are your thoughts about parenting in the digital age? What do you think will be the key trends and issues in this area that parents will have to deal with, when raising their kids?

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