Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous workshop called Tech Reset. It was put on by Rachael Herrscher from Today’s Mama, Mindy McKnight from Cute Girl Hairstyles, Anna Macfarlane from Kids Are The Worst, and Matt McKee of Bark. The purpose of the event was to acknowledge parents concerns about the role technology plays in our kids lives and to give practical advice on how best to teach them to navigate it.
I loved it. Seriously, I was taking notes fast and furiously throughout the entire event. Many of you know that I have a couple of older children (they are married, even…how did that happen!), one teen daughter and two young sons who are knocking on the door of teenage-hood at the ripe old age of 12. These youngest boys of mine will be heading out the door this fall to the new world of Junior High. I can’t believe how much technology has changed since my oldest son went to Junior High. Different social media platforms, cell phone capabilities and the ever looming threat of predators and pornography have all intensified, for sure. When I look back on how I helped my older kids “manage technology”, I have to admit to having regrets. There are many, many things I would do differently for them, knowing what I know now from my own personal experience online and by witnessing just how easy it is for predators to have access to our kids through technology.
I also know that technology and the way we use our screen time can be fabulous, inspiring, uplifting and very fulfilling. These are amazing times we live in! Learning how to best manage and use the technology available to us is of key importance. I thought I would give a recap of what I learned at Tech Reset, just in case there are a few of you out there looking for some tips and tricks. The purpose of this post isn’t to tell you what I do that works well, but to pass on some great information I got at the Workshop and to point you towards fantastic resources presented at the workshop. See many links below. There are no affiliate links, nor am I getting any kind of kick back from the information recommended in this post. I just wanted to pass on these valuable tips and tricks. As a parent it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the task of managing technology. Goodness…it’s seems hard to monitor and manage our own selves sometimes. I get it. 🙂 I recommend just choosing one thing you can do this week to improve the way you and your family use the tech world, and then improving from there. Don’t be discouraged.
To enter the giveaway, all you need do is leave a comment (either here or on Instagram) of any kind that has to do with Kids and Technology. You could offer a suggestion based on something you’ve done that worked well with your kids, you can ask for advice on something you are struggling with, you can respond to someone else’s question, etc. I’m hoping the comment section can be a conversation tool and resource for all of us. We are all figuring this out together, right? 😉 The Giveaway will be open from today until Thursday, April 18th. The winner will be announced on Friday morning, April 19th.
Now, here are some of the great advice I was given at the conference…
Ideas from Rachael Herrscher from Today’s Mama
I love Rachael, this lady has some top-notch ideas. Here are a few
Today’s parents are Xennials: I’d never heard that term before attending the conference, but it refers to those of us who were born in a world without the internet, but are raising kids who are native to technology, meaning they’ve never lived in a world with out it. This puts us in a tricky spot, since we were never trained by our own parents to navigate technology. However, the ball is certainly in our court. How we help our kids navigate the digital world will carry on and affect the way they train their own kids. While this is a sobering thought, I appreciated the perspective it gives and the call to action it initiates.
Have a purpose for each device and each platform: Take an inventory of all the devices used by the people in your home (even TV’s) and decide what purpose they fill. Do the same thing with each new app, social media platform, website, game, etc that is used by any family member. Taking this kind of inventory helps us see how we can get rid of time-wasting technology and make better use of technology that benefits us. This will of course look differently for each family.
Smart Phones: When Rachael gives her kids a Smart Phone (at age 16) she requires them to pay either $35 per month to use them, or they have to listen to 4 podcasts of her choice during the month. Isn’t that clever? I bet that opens up a lot of opportunity for chit-chat. 😉 You can see a list of the PODCASTS for TEENS she recommends by clicking HERE. She also suggests learning how to use the devices you give your kids before you hand it over to them.
Serve the Apple Slices: Have you noticed that kids are willing to eat more apples if we slice them up and present them to our kids. Rachel likens that same idea to offering our kids activities that don’t involve technology. Examples could be, leaving a family puzzle out to work on, having art supplies available, placing value on learning musical instruments, playing sports, even hanging out with friends. All too often technology becomes the instant draw when there is down time. Having other things readily available can help separate us from the easy fix.
Mindi and her daughters have many different You Tube channels and social media accounts that have awarded them a very large online presence. (I’m sure many of you have heard of them!) She has a lot of experience dealing with kids in an online world. She was very positive about how technology can benefit us as individuals and families.
Mindi recently came out with this fabulous book Viral Parenting about setting boundaries with our kids. She has a lot of great advice! I highly recommend it. I especially love her ideas about writing up a contract for cell phone usage and having both the parent and the child sign it before the device is given.
Ideas from Anna Macfarlane from Kids Are The Worst
Anna offers many great ideas on how to communicate with kids, keeping things light and humorous while remaining the insightful parents we all hope we are. 😉 She has a fantastic downloadable package called Family Social and Media Guides. Here are a few of the ideas she gave at the conference…
STOP. WALK. TELL. Have a drill that kids can use when they see something online that is inappropriate. Stop. Walk. Tell. is the drill Anna and her kids use. She has them practice it regularly, helping them know just how to handle the situation when it arises…which we all know happens more than we would like. What a great way to keep an open line of communication.
Have a Family Thread: Have a space where you can share fun things with your kids. Meme’s, funny pictures, inspiring quotes, cool articles you come across, etc. You could simply use a texting thread everyone is on, or create a group on Group Me.
Learn the Lingo: Make sure you know which social media platforms your kids are on. Check them out regularly and make sure your kids are posting appropriately. Don’t be afraid to ask your kids what different online slang words mean, like “yeat” and “swoll”. Ha! It’s like this whole other language exists through social media, right? I have no idea what those words mean, but I bet my kids do. Getting familiar with the lingo, by asking our kids to teach us opens up those lines of communication that are so important.
Matt McKee of Bark.
Bark is a Parent Monitoring App that that covers text messaging, You Tube, email, social media platforms and apps. It provides automatic alerts to you through text or email when there are any signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, adult content, etc. on your kids’ devices. This whole program seems like such a great way to help monitor our kids. I totally understand the need for parents to have access to kids’ accounts and the importance of reading through text messages, instant messages, social media platforms, etc…but it can be overwhelming to think of reading through all that content on a regular basis. Bark takes the time-consuming element out of the equation by sending you updates when anything looks suspicious. It seems like a really great tool, one my family and I are looking into. I thought I would pass it along to all of you as well. Here are a few more details about how it works…
Here are a couple of testimonials from parents who have used it…
Thanks for dropping by today! I hope some of this information was helpful to you. I look forward to reading your comments!