Book Group Chapter 3: What’s MY digital literacy?

Photo by Stas Knop on

Chapter 3 from Screenwise, Assessing Your Own Digital Literacy, was a chapter I needed.  I’ve realized that much of my own concern about my kids entering the digital world is that I see they’ll use technology very differently than I do. My familiarity with such a small corner of the digital world means I often don’t even know the questions to ask to get started learning.  Heitner understands this and directs the questions away from tech and toward relationships.

She writes “Helping [kids] make good decisions is a better and more effective strategy than trying to protect them from everything that is out there.”  She cites tech researcher Alexandra Samuel whose recent work found that parent approaches to technology tend to fall into one of three categories: limiting tech use, mentoring tech use and an enabling/laissez faire approach. Samuels posits that “shielding kids from the Internet may work for a time but once they do get online… kids [who haven’t been mentored] often lack the skills and habits that make for consistent, safe and successful online interactions.”  This is helpful for me to think about since I certainly use the strategy of limiting my kids’ interactions with technology.

The author sprinkles helpful ideas throughout the chapter.  Often they’re just tidbits of a few sentences – but clear and effective ideas.  She touches on an idea for handling playtime at friends’ homes, sleepovers, a family-friendly way to introduce an app like Instagram, how to decide when to “greenlight” an app, questions that lead to good family conversations about tech, and more.

Heitner also hits on the important role that other parents play.  She writes “I see how hard it is for parents to talk with other parents about their experiences.  Instead there is a lot of internal judgment and negativity, with little consensus. If we all strive for open communication about parenting and technology and take a community approach… we’ll all benefit.”

I’d love for PSTT to play this role in our community:  A place for parents to gather to share their experiences and puzzle out which different approaches might work best for their own families.  This book is giving me a frame in which to think and I’m starting to see how I can begin to build my own family compass around technology.  I’d love to hear what others think.  Has it been helpful so far for anyone else?

Post by Julie Barry

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