Friday, July 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Be a Curious Tourist in your Teen's Digital World 2

From Educator and Author, Sue Blaney, her parenting tips are priceless! In today's digital world of social networking and texting - you need to be a proactive and educated parent! Learn what your kids are doing in cyberworld!

My tip this week is Be a Curious Tourist in Your Teen’s Digital World >>Listen

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that your teen is living in a different world than you are. His or her world most likely includes computer-based activities like online gaming, virtual worlds, social networking and more that you may find unfamiliar. Your teen is a “digital native;” you are not. This presents an opportunity…and your resident expert has lots to teach you if you play your cards right.

It is helpful for you to get a realistic perspective about how fundamentally the digital world is changing. In February, social network usage exceeded web-based email usage for the first time. There are 87 percent more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883% more time devoted to those sites*. This isn’t a passing fancy; this is a paradigm shift that has dramatic implications on all fronts. One study released this week titled Learning in the 21st Century: 2009 Trends Update says students have become…”'Free agent learners,’ and as such, they are less dependent upon traditional education institutions for knowledge acquisition and are much more self-reliant, exercising their internet-based skills to aggregate data and information. It has become increasingly clear that students are functioning as a 'Digital Advance Team' for our nation illuminating the path for how to leverage emerging technologies …” So, tap into your teenager’s world, and ask him to show you around.

My suggestion is to make this fun, and to approach it as a curious tourist. Being a digital native, your teenager approaches his digital tools, games and activities fundamentally differently than you do, so use this opportunity to get into his head a bit to try to understand his point of view. What can she do online that amazes you? What is fun about his world? Being open minded and curious will make it more likely that your teenager will be happy to show you around. Be careful not to express an attitude that is judgmental or negative in any way. If she plays games with kids in Japan, ask her to show you what she does. If he has an avatar in Second Life, have him give you a tour of some Hot Spots or cool areas there. Does she like to watch some of the funny videos on youtube? Ask her to show you her favorites.

We will discuss the fact that you have an important role to play in providing guidance in your teen’s digital life…and I’ll speak about that aspect in future articles and 2 minute tips… But this week’s tip is to relax and have some fun learning from your teen, allowing her to be the expert showing you around. You probably have a lot of catch-up to do, and it’s never too late to start. Your attitude of curiosity will get you there faster.

Follow Sue Blaney on Twitter at @sueblaney