Showing posts with label kids and technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kids and technology. Show all posts

Teaching Kids About Digital Footprints | Raising Responsible Digital Citizens

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"A digital footprint is a trail left by an entity's interactions in a digital environment; including their usage of TV, mobile phone, internet and world wide web, mobile web and other devices and sensors. Digital footprints provide data on what an entity has performed in the digital environment; and are valuable in assisting behavioral targeting, personalization, targeted marketing, digital reputation, and other social media or social graphing services."
The definition above is taken from Wikipedia. I read a post this morning by Jennifer at Hip As I Wanna Be about an incident involving her son, text messages and one of her son's female classmates. I won't go into the details here so that I don't misquote or misrepresent; but I will say it's not that bad, it could have been worse and Jennifer and her son are handling it the same way I would with Tyler.

kids responsible digital citizens

Parents: cell phones and iPod Touches are not toys. I know it's hard to convince our kids otherwise because of the crossover. We and our children use them for entertainment, but they need to be treated with a lot more respect than I see them getting. I'm continually confounded by people who hand these devices over to their children with no parental controls in place, no monitoring and without having serious discussions with their kids about that definition above and exactly what it means.

Each one of us has our own digital drawer in the card catalog of the world. Every time we hit send, reply, publish, share, like or any other verb, we add another entry into that card catalog. Remember last December when a student in Vienna requested a copy of his personal data from Facebook? After being on Facebook for only one year, the site had more than 1200 pages of information on him and his network of friends!

Kids are starting to fill their card catalog drawers at an early age, and unfortunately, like in the case of Jennifer's son's classmate, those entries aren't always good. Now, I know times are different. I certainly can't shield Tyler from everything. He has an iPod, he's played Call of Duty at friends' houses. But. 

Before we gave him the iPod I set up every parental control Apple allows, we explained the rules and consequences and we have his iPod in our room. He has to ask for it in order to play with it. He can play online games like World of Warcraft, but he's a low level user and my husband has turned off the chat feature. Tyler knows to come to us if anyone sends him a chat request.

It's my responsibility to make sure my son is not abusing his technology and to teach him to have respect for what it can do. It's my responsibility to talk to him about computer viruses, malware, spywear, and the idea that everything he does online is being filed away somewhere. Sometime in the future, someone is going to open his card catalog. What kind of things will he want that person to see? What kind of impression will he want to make?

Handing children under 14 a digital device and then walking away is irresponsible and can be dangerous. Parents, please talk to your kids about how long things can "live" online. Teach them about cyber bullying, sexting* and how to respond to those types of situations. I think it's awesome that Jennifer and her son have the type of relationship where he felt he could talk to her. I hope that's the type of trust I have with my son.

What are you doing to educate your kids about their digital footprints? Have you already had a bad experience with your kids? How did you handle it?

*When age appropriate, of course

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Would You Buy Your 5-Year Old an iPod?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1/7/2010 Update at the end of the post

I was flipping through O Magazine and saw a small piece where the reporter asked a fashion designer what he'd be packing in his beach bag this summer. One of the items he'd include is an iPod Touch for his five-year old. Five. Not 12 or 15. Five.

Um, what's a little person barely out of toddlerhood doing with an iPod Touch? That's quite a hefty piece of technology to be buried in the sand. I let Tyler use mine occasionally but would never consider getting him his own. Even if I had the money (and I don't, mine was purchased with birthday money), I wouldn't buy him one. He's just too young.

I'm still getting a lot of comments on this post so I wanted to share my feelings now.  When I wrote this Tyler was a few months shy of turning 7. At the time, he was not mature or responsible enough for his own iPod Touch. He's 8 now and I'm still not sure *I* would spring for him to have one of his own.

He sorta kinda tricked his Grandpa into buying him a Nintendo DSi. He's had for about half a year. He's been very careful with it in that he has not mishandled it, but he couldn't find it for a few days and we all thought it was lost. He forgot he'd put it in his Ta Kwon Do bag.

As some people have pointed out, the games for the iPod are much more affordable than Nintendo. I totally agree. Downloading an app for $1.99 versus buying a cartridge for $30-40 is a no brainer. It really is up to each family. If your 5 year-old is responsible enough to have $200 worth of technology, go for it. I think buying something in that price range for that age sets a bad precedent.

Now that Tyler has his DSi, we've told him we're not buying games for him (except for birthday gifts etc.) He's had to earn and save up money to buy what he wants. He's learned how much things cost, how long it takes to save for something and how long it takes him to earn money with his allowance. Those are concepts I think a 5 year-old is just starting to grasp and can't really put into practice yet.

Tyler would have been waiting a long time for us to buy a DSi. We have very strict usage rules with it (and the TV, Wii and computer). He can't sit in front of a screen all day. If he chooses to spend his morning watching TV, he can't play the computer at night too. This is another issue I have with kids and technology; how they encourage couch potato-ness and limit imagination. Again, 5 is a little young to start this behavior pattern.

I did buy an MP3 player for a Christmas gift but it's not a name brand. Tyler is perfectly happy with it and if he loses or breaks it I'm only out $12 ($22 on Amazon but I had a $10 credit). 

Every family is different. Do what feels right for you. I still think 5 is too young (I agree with Anonymous below about maturity and milestones), but if your kid is more mature and responsible than mine was at that age go for it.
copyright melanie sheridan 2009 template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)