Is your community at risk? Most are.

Is your community at risk? Most are.

I get to head to the Topeka area today to talk with a group of parents, teachers, and students — alongside law enforcement agencies — to help heal wounds caused by student mistakes with digital tools. My heart breaks for this community as they’re reeling from news headlines and ugliness done to good kids.

Folks, I can’t urge us to remember this is a regular and ongoing community conversation we must have. 98% of the calls I get to come speak to this issue are AFTER the cow has left the barn, after the mistakes have been made. We as parents and teachers must advocate for the regular use of social media and tech tools at all levels. 

1. We can’t rely on mechanical filters to raise our kids for us. We must help to develop the filter between the kids’ ears (hat tip to Kevin Honeycutt)

2. We can’t play “gotcha” with our children. Spot checks are good, but when done from a place of “catching them doing wrong” all we’ll do is ensure the kids get smarter about going underground. And we’ll never catch them or have the opportunity for an open, trusting dialog.

3. We have to become learners ourselves. What apps are they using? Download it. Learn it. Invite your friends to join you. Get your “old” all over it! And talk with your kids about your experiences. Trust me, nothing like getting a little “old” on technology to help it lose a little lustre to kids!

4. We want to remember that we’re parenting and teaching the future here, but our old rules of how people treat one another in real life and online is so vital here. And that we’re our kids’ #1 role models in how we treat others. Do we talk crap on our “friends?” Do we get mad in traffic? Do we have a balance of digital and analog in our own lives or are we pegged to one side or the other. Kids are watching us. Even our “snarky” teens. It’s hard to be impeccable with our own word or deed and we’ll make mistakes. Admit them. Talk about them. And grow together with your kids. Afterall, this is a new playground for ALL of us.

And there are so many, many more things we can do to help ourselves help our babies, even our 6′ tall babies!

Kids WILL make mistakes online. All of them will at one time or another, at varying degrees. How do we help them create a Good footprint to overshadow the inevitable dumb things? And how do we keep their hands busy doing Good more than they have the opportunity to do dumb?

Tools of communication edtechI’ve NEVER talked with a group of kids who were unaware of the rules of online use. Every single group I’ve talked with knows what they are not supposed to do. Some even know what they should do, although that is far fewer. Kids know. But idle hands are the devil’s playground. And as parents and educators, we must be there beside on the digital playground them and keep communications open. As educators, we must use these tools for learning to take some mystique away and to help create evidence of a good kid online. To help them practice what to do, not just preach at them what not to do.

If we’re teaching kids for THEIR future, learning and using digital tools is not an “extra.”

If your community needs help closing the barn doors with students, teachers, and parents BEFORE the proverbial cows get out, please do not hesitate to call me.

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Written by GingerLewman

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