Internet technology changes at what seems like a lightning pace, so it can feel challenging to stay on top of it. Do you wish you were more cyber savvy as a parent or educator? Keeping ahead of the learning curve is important in order to teach our kids safe and smart online habits.
So, here are five tips to help you take your cyber skills to the next level:
- Delegate Some Research to the Experts
- Listen and Learn
- Find Strength in Numbers
- Start Slow and Keep it Simple
- Don’t Give Up
Beat the learning curve by feeding yourself small, regular doses of the latest tech news.
There are so many great organizations researching the latest tech developments, app safety guidelines, and social media trends among teens and tweens. As a parent or educator, if you’re on social media, follow these experts! By doing so, you’ll regularly catch their great content and stay up to speed. Or better yet, sign up for their tips and tricks to be delivered right to your inbox. Beat the learning curve by feeding yourself small, regular doses of the latest tech news.
When kids start talking about a new app or game, communicate interest.
Kids will keep you current on exactly what the “in” tech trends are if you just pay attention. When kids start talking about a new app or game, communicate interest by saying, “Show me,” or “Let’s check it out together.” Ask your kids thoughtful questions about how certain features work and engage their reasoning skills to see if they understand any potential risks in the technology they’re using. Probe their knowledge about privacy risks, mature content, and stranger danger in any new app or gaming system. Yes, they may be more cyber-savvy by nature, but as an adult, you are more life-savvy.
Plan a dinner party where a few friends bring their family mobile devices
No matter how technically defunct you may feel, you probably know at least one tech rockstar. And tech rockstars usually like to help people! Tap into that resource. Why not plan a dinner party where a few friends bring their family mobile devices? Over dessert, let the kids watch a movie while the adults get to work helping each other set up parental controls and other safety features, or just sharing knowledge about how things work. For educators, why not plan a special staff party where everyone takes a turn asking questions or sharing tips about the kinds of technology your students use? Group discussions always seem to bring new and needed information to the forefront.
Start by diving deeper on one mobile device and two or three of the most popular apps kids are using.
We’ve all heard it’s better to do a few things really well than to do many things poorly. The same goes for mastering new technology. Rather than trying to learn about every device platform or all of the latest apps out there, start by diving deeper on one mobile device and two or three of the most popular apps kids are using. Parents and educators of younger children have a clear advantage in being able to more effectively pace their students’ tech appetites, thereby making it easier to stay on top of pertinent risk factors. With younger kids, you can start slowly with privileges and access learning how to protect one thing really well, then another, then another. However, if you are raising or educating kids who are already fully active online and in the social media cosmos, your best option is to talk openly and honestly with them about the risks they face. You may also consider utilizing software that limits access to certain apps, monitors activity, and enables time restrictions.
Our responsibilities as parents and educators demand that we stay engaged in our kids’ digital lives.
You may feel that technology is getting more and more complicated, so, therefore, there’s no use keeping up if you’re already behind. However, our responsibilities as parents and educators demand that we stay engaged in our kids’ digital lives. As easy as it might be to wish all of this tech complexity away, it just isn’t reality. In order to protect our kids in the digital world and train them to use wisdom online, we must continue to gain knowledge and understanding about the technology they’re using. Even if you’re only making small steps in your journey to becoming more cyber-savvy, the important thing is to keep moving forward. Don’t give up!
Although it might feel overwhelming to consider the seemingly boundless reaches of technology, it doesn’t have to be. There are more resources available than ever before to help you become a cyber-savvy parent or educator, and every journey begins with a single step. Lean into the expertise of others (even kids!), start slow and simple, and don’t give up. In doing so, you’ll discover new confidence to help you conquer the tech learning curve.
What cyber-savvy tips do you have to help other parents and educators? Share them in the comments below.
Sarah Siegand is passionate about protecting kids online through parent education workshops, writing, and consulting. She is the co-founder of Parents Who Fight which is a campaign to unite and equip parents who want to protect their kids from online dangers. Connect with her on LinkedIn. Learn more about Guest Blogging for SafeSmartSocial.com.