Easier parenting?

In some ways, monitoring a child’s tech use is getting easier.

Apps allow remote locking, offer location tracking, and limit time on a device.

My concern is that it’s too easy to substitute tech monitoring for effective parenting.

Helping a child effectively use a device is one aspect of parenting, but gatekeeping, filtering or blocking is a single part of being a good mom or dad.

No app, filter or site will help a child make meaningful sense of his experience. No program can duplicate your family value system.

Tech is a tool, not a parent.

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A vote for the melting pot

I grew up on the streets of Chicago, where diversity was assumed. Fusion of cultures? Of course.

As the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, I looked forward to Jewish holidays. That’s when our public school population of 800 dropped down to a couple of classrooms – those days were such fun.

Today’s changing demographics bring reflections of our “melting pot” nation to children growing up far outside the city sidewalks where I learned to ride my bike. Social commentators call today’s increased diversity a sign of the “new normal”, but it simply offers our kids a close-up of the world, right outside the front door.

An End to Helicoptering?

Exposure to technology isn’t merely making kids smarter.

New research says tech nudges children toward independence. Becoming self-sufficient with gadgets is a step in the right direction.

Because we live in uncertain times, parents are also encouraging their children to learn through life experiences. Some parents still hover, but an increasing number believe experiences should include exposure to controlled risk taking.

Could that signal an end to helicopter parenting?

Socially conscious shoppers

Raising children to be pro-social consumers is emerging as a priority.

Just as happened with recycling, introducing the subject often begins at school before the topics are carried home.

But moms and dads who do ethical shopping reinforce those lessons and train their kids to make informed purchasing decisions.

It’s neat to hear children discuss issues like transparency and sustainability, whether at school or home.

Shifting the screen balance

September means it’s time for the perennial fall balancing act.

Homework enters the picture for kids who’ve spent the summer playing video games, using social media and watching other screen-based entertainment. Nearly half of students rely on some type of electronic gadget for homework.

Electronic devices have a place, but a bigger challenge is to include tech-free family time in busy schedules.

Lunch box chips

School started weeks ago in some areas, so trends are already emerging in lunch boxes.

What’s popular?

Chips. But potato chips have gone way beyond crinkle cut and thinly sliced salty crunches.

Even kids are packing bean chips, jicama chips, bean chips and rice chips.

Moms are looking for kid friendly flavors in snackable formats.

Tech savvy=Smart?

Tech gives kids a head start. At least according to a recent study, that’s common thinking among parents.

And it is pretty amazing to see an 18 month old swish across a tablet or respond to the dancing images.

Researchers say 2 out of 3 preschoolers have access to a tablet, but parents don’t have an automatic love affair with tech. They worry about exposure to inappropriate content.

That’s a preventable problem. It simply won’t happen when the tablet is only used with mom or dad.

As an early childhood educator, I still need to ask, “What would a young children be doing if he wasn’t playing on a tablet? Would he be learning to ride a bike? drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk? setting the table for supper?