I’m a digital immigrant. You probably are, too.
Our children, on the other hand, are digital natives.
I remember the first time my dad brought home an Atari, hooked it up, and we played pong. It blew my mind. And then I couldn’t have really cared less, favoring activities such as riding my bike, reading books and all of the other things that children of the 80’s did. It might be true that when Nintendo came along, there were perchance days that I sat in front of the TV playing Mario for hours on end. Possibly.
When I left to go to college most of my friends were using word processors. I was so excited to have a computer and dot matrix printer when I started my second year of school. Y’all, I was seriously high tech. Never mind the fact that it took up more than half of the desk.
Now I’m parenting children who have grown up with personal computers and iDevices and Wii and Xbox. They can work a remote better than I can, airprint a document that they typed up in notes on an iPad, and instinctively know what to do with almost any electronic device they come into contact with.
Not only am I parenting these children, I’m attempting to teach them how to deal with something that they are better at that me. And I’m pretty tech savvy. What is a momma to do?
So. What exactly is a digital native? Well…they’re the children of the 2000’s, the Post Millennials, GenZ, or the iGeneration. If you put a touch screen device in their hands, from the time they are toddlers, they will be able to manipulate it. They were born with technology at their disposal and they know how to use it.
Their brains are constantly bombarded by media. They process the world around them differently than we digital immigrants do. They’ve never used a card catalog to research a project, but they can produce the answers to mathematical equations they can’t even begin to understand within a minute given they have an iDevice in hand.
They are smart, savvy and they’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification.
As a mom, I’m confronted with the fact that no matter how hard I may try to safeguard their encounters with technology, they will one day see something that has the power to hurt them. Whether they become the subject of cyber bullying, accidentally (or maybe even on purpose) come across porn, or they may even come in contact with someone pretending to be someone they aren’t.
Rather than putting all my eggs in the basket of trying to prevent such things from happening (and you better believe I am working hard on the preventing!) I’m working on teaching them how to react when they do.
[Tweet “10 Simple Rules to Teach Digital Natives…#parenting in the #digital age.”]
- Never Never NEVER give out personal information. Just say no. It’s a motto that worked in the ’80’s and it still works today. Thank you Mrs. Reagan.
- Trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Show it to mom and dad, and we’ll figure out what to do from there together.
- Never meet up in real life with someone you met online. While we think it’s just plain common sense, the brains of children have not learned where a healthy boundary of real life and online life exists.
- You don’t have to respond to every message you get. If it’s mean or hurtful or gross or makes your skin crawl you don’t have to respond. See rule #2.
- Never give out your passwords. Not to your best friend. Not to your teacher. Not to anyone. Except Mom and Dad.
- Don’t download or install anything without first checking with Mom and Dad. You might think it’s a Minecraft mod, but it could be a virus that you’ll never in a million years be able to get rid of.
- Be a good digital citizen. Do to others what you would want them to do to you. It’s biblical. It’s truth. And it definitely applies online.
- The internet is forever. You might post something and decide to take it down later, but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared from the internet forever. Think before you share…especially with pictures.
- There’s no such thing as anonymous. No matter how hard you try, eventually you will be found out. And one day you’re going to like a guy, want to go to college or need a job.
- Your value is not determined by likes or hearts or stars. Your value lies in who you are. It’s not measured by popularity or performance.
And one last idea from my friend Heather over at Leading From the Deep End, if you’re wanting to give your children a reason NOT to go looking for porn. Their family has a policy that if they find questionable websites in their web monitoring report or in the logs, that boy will have to sit with her and talk their way through the website, stating why it is wrong, how it objectifies women, and why they shouldn’t have viewed it. Sounds like a pretty good deterrent if you ask me. I’m pretty sure that’s one thing no boy ever hopes to have to do.