Parenting 21st Century Learners: How ParentalExpectations, Support and Concerns AffectChildren’s Acquisition of New Skills in the Digital AgeChristi TrucksThe University of AlabamaMSERA Presentationchristitrucks@gmail.com
Introduction Technology is part of our daily lives. Parents today must ask themselves, “How will I respond to technology and the role it will play in my childrens life?” Parental expectations, support and concerns are areas which affect children’s encounters with technology.
Research Questions1. What are parents’ expectations for theirchildren’s knowledge and application ofvarious forms of technology?a. Where do parents believe their children acquire their technological knowledge and skills?b. How do parents believe their children acquire their technological knowledge and skills?c. What do parents expect schools to do to prepare their child for a technologically advanced world?
2. How do parents support their children’s technologically driven life?a. How do parents monitor technology and Internet usage at home?b. What tangible means of support do parents and family members offer their children?c. What intangible means of support do parents and other family members offer their children?d. Are parents supportive of emerging technologies and trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) and educational gaming that they may not know as much about as their children?
3. What concerns do parents haveregarding technology usage and theirchild?a. How do these concerns affect their children’s acquisition of new technological skills?
Framework Epstein’s six types of parental involvement will provide the conceptual framework for this study. The framework was developed to benefit the parent – school relationship. It is implied that both want the best for children and by using this framework as a guide children will benefit.The six types of parental involvement include: Parenting Communicating Volunteering Learning at home Decision Making Collaborating with Community (Epstein, 1997)
Review of the LiteratureParental Expectations Davies’ nationwide mixed method study “emphasizes the importance of providing their children with the opportunity to gain experiences and skills seen as essential for participation in a future information society” (Davies, 2011). Livingstone’s 2007 study entitled “Young People, New Media” showed that 95% of mainly middle class parents are positive about computers and technology. They feel that the Internet is a necessary component of life and expect their children to learn how to use it for both educational and personal needs. Parents essentially want their children to be able to utilize technology to function in society (Livingstone, 2008).
Parental Support Parents have always been considered important stakeholders in their children’s education (Kong, 2009). Research indicates that the “home learning environment is an incredibly fertile ground for making change” (Demski, 2011). “Parental involvement is considered a critical variable influencing learning performance” (Bourgonjon, 2011). Parental support can be evident in both tangible and intangible means (Cranmer, 2006).
Tangible Support Tangible support is given to children through the purchase of computers, iPads, iPods, smart phones, Internet connectivity and other forms of hardware needed to perform a technological task. Parents want to ensure lifelong learning”(Kong, 2009). They feel that by purchasing technology they are doing this. Parents of a 9 year old stated:“it wouldn’t be fair on him for his future to deny him to get theexposure of a computer […] the more skill he has, the more heunderstands how people use them you know, it just gives him abetter chance in life with jobs and you know his work future andstudies)” (Davies, 2011).
Intangible Support Valke’s 2010 empirical study of Internet parenting styles describes “parental warmth” as a factor in children’s understanding and use of technology. The research includes Baumrind’s definition of parental warmth as: “the extent to which parents intentionally fosterindividuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by beingattuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’sspecial needs and demands” (Baumrind, 1991). Children who feel trusted and respected when engaged in technology practices are more likely to attain more skills and try new things than those who feel constantly questioned (Clark, 2009).
Support of Emerging Technologies The 2012 Horizon Report for K-12 Classrooms predicts mobile devices and apps are a technology that will be adopted into the mainstream within the next year. According to an initiative entitled Speak Up, the amount of students in grades 6-12 who own a cellular device has risen 42% in the last year (Project Tomorrow, 2011). Digital game-based learning is another emerging area. According to the 2012 Horizon Report for K-12 classrooms, “Game based learning refers to the integration of games or gaming mechanics into educational experiences”. It is identified as a technology two to three years from becoming mainstreamed. This will likely be the next area where parents are forced to make decisions regarding their children’s technology usage.
Parental Concerns Many parents expressed concern over their teens knowing more about the Internet and technology usage than they do. They are unsure how to “maintain authority” over their children (Clark, 2009). The most frequently expressed concerns include interactions with strangers, online abuse of children, online bullying and cheating online (plagiarism) (Sharples, 2009).
Methodology A mixed method approach will be used to collect data. A parent survey will be administered to collect data concerning their children’s technology usage. The survey will be distributed to approximately 100 high school parents in a low to middle class school. Following the survey a focus group will be formed to discuss the aspects of the study. Follow-up questions for the focus group will be determined by the responses to the initial survey.
Summary Digital media has caused parents to form new expectations for their children’s learning. No longer are the “three r’s” sufficient. Parents must determine what is important and realistic for their children to eventually master. Smedts states, “We have arrived at an age in which technologization is the way in which we understand education and what it means to be a parent” (Smedts, 2008). We must therefore learn how to use it to benefit our children both now and for the future.
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Contact Information Christi Trucks The University of Alabama firstname.lastname@example.org