Raising Children in a Digital Age, Hexham June 2014


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A simple overview of the key thinking in Dr Bex Lewis' recent book 'Raising Children in a Digital Age', and a chance to ask questions of the author.

Hexham Trinity Methodist Church (see http://plancast.com/p/let7/raising-children-digital-age)

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  • On the way in – provide post-it notes – flip chart paper each side of the door … what see as the potential, what are fearful about… see if can summarise these initially?
  • Intro self…

    Raising children = all responsible.

    Not parenting advice, but digital environment (17 yrs)
  • Social Media – all about RELATIONSHIPS – Twitter-like exercise

    Be checking out the post-it notes whilst people are chatting to each other…
  • Let’s look at the post-it notes … what excites/worries, let’s see how far we get.
  • Headlines = full of disaster, children are addicted to screens, being abducted via Facebook, giving away all their information, sexting, running up bills, becoming couch potatoes, watching porn, meeting strangers and bullying and trolling at every opportunity.

    I exaggerate, but then so does the news – which (by its nature) is focused on the new/the unusual and has left many people with a feeling that there’s very little that they can do …
  • Challenging Fears: Brief Lessons from History

    New technology = moral panics, and dangers of ‘technological determinism’

    Dan Gardner ‘Risk’ – healthiest, wealthiest, safest generation in history - most terrified (post 9/11 flights/road accidents)

    Families changed – children = ‘decision making’; multiple shapes
  • Byron Report (2008), said: “I found the more that I understood what [my children] were experiencing, the more I felt empowered to support them to [go online] responsibly and safely, and the more freedom I felt comfortable for them to have”.

    Digital Revolution affected all our lives whether choose to participate or not.. Huge huge huge numbers online

    So, what are the particular characteristics of digital culture?
    Easy to change/replicate/share – which is original?
    Author intentions = misread
    Shared fast BUT ALSO means response = faster.
    Sense of invisibility = irresponsible; but anonymity = can access support sites (little true anonymity)

    Tech = not the bad guy = like a brick!
    Talking online/offline rather than virtual/real…
  • 3 mins (don’t forget USB stick) Any reactions?
  • Like electricity – don’t need to know inside/out to use it … same with technology these days..

    Current top tools = fair stable, and know one, will know futures – advice particularly focuses on how to take control of your information.
  • Brief overview – old, but not really been bettered, although becoming outdated…
  • Definitely need to know about these 2 – but ask your kids what they are using… private peer-to-peer growing…
  • Children = more time on tech, but finding new ways to do (old) things

    The ‘myth’ of the digital native …. still human beings! Tech literacy = not innate, but learned - are not beyond our reach, just need some time to understand.

    13 = legal age for Facebook, etc. = positive choices.

    Technology not seen as ‘technology’ – it just is..

    Where do kids turn to for advice (their friends) – start to think how to make yourself more of a confidante.
  • Talking to children about technology – many parents as nervous as talking about sex, but this is the most powerful tool/technique available…

    Ensure each negative statement about tech, etc. accompanied by positive where possible so doesn’t look like dismissing out of hand.. Chelsea Clinton did this re other forms of media whilst she was growing up.

    Internet Safety Agreement – work with kids to define one that works for your own family…
  • Practical Advice: Privacy & Permanency

    Martha Payne (NeverSeconds) – her Dad still checks everything she receives first… (age 9) – a brief overview of the changing capabilities of children – essentially younger = ‘walled garden’, older = deeper insights. Facebook = 13, many parents think 11 or think is up to them…

    Facebook influenced much – Zuckerberg believed privacy = dead, but children actually seem to be pretty intelligent about this – and if they aren’t – warning is not to go mad at them, but help them improve the situation..
  • The pros & cons of monitoring and filtering – can’t really just rely on the technology to stop things appearing in front of your children – none of the systems = as sophisticated as human beings..

    Location services/managing digital footprint…

    Of value to younger members of family … not once get older – again – back to communication…
  • Identity, Values and Authenticity

    Turkle = photoshopped selves = danger that we’re only projecting a particular image of ourselves – I would say yes, but think do in all situations, and we need to raise awareness that people are not sharing everything of themselves online (nor do they in any situation) .. These were ideas from early days of the internet, but filtered into our everyday thinking…

    Children need role models – if parents have mobiles attached to them, then have no leg to stand on when try to remonstrate with children.

  • Remember that anything that you write online – even in private messages, etc. are easy to copy & paste – and out of your control onve you write them down… quite a good benchmark is thinking of these people who might read it … it may place limitations on what you write – being open and authentic does not mean shove it all out without filters!!

    You may still post, but at least you will post with awareness that you may attract kickback, etc..

    I think of – before I post – God, Your Mum, ‘The kids’, The newspaper, Your worst enemy
  • Relationships (Online)

    The word ‘friendship’ has changed as we now ‘friend’ others on Facebook – children can’t afford to not accept friend requests from those they interact with in the physical space (e.g. school) as has repercussions for offline life… (and most are offline connections)

    Huge amount of online etiquette – including who connect with, speed of response, what you like, etc..

    Facebook depression (more/less socially active)
  • Situation of particular concern = (Cyber-bullying)… want to focus on the 3 groups of people involved here..
  • Don’t want to use term victim, as are not powerless…. But this is the group that we are most concerned about as every individual case is a tragedy … but is it as bad as we fear?
  • We may be familiar with the signs of bullying (Unexplained headaches, Nausea, Bedwetting , Mood swings, Aggression, Night terrors, Fall behind on school-work, Avoid going to school or leaving the house, Become anti-social) and these may be present … though could also be signs of being teenage .. But particular to cyber-bullying …
  • ASK: Anybody any ideas what these numbers reflect?

    Research = those affected from 5.5% to 71% (obviously press = worst figures), but these figures can cause their own problems. Nancy Willard = makes people think that it’s a ‘rite of passage’ – put up with it // not really causing harm… = means more get involved – whereas if we can show that most behave positively online, inspired to copy that instead…

    Policies by government, schools and parents are also dictated by a belief in the height of stats … the higher the stats – the more likely we are to limit access, want more surveillance – and call for bans on technology!
  • Note that may be worth taking time away from online for a while to take a breath and think about how you are going to deal with things when you go back online … come back to some of that with bystanders in a minute…
  • Be aware a persistent bully may have multiple IDs so need to keep vigilant…

    If decide to talk to parent, write down facts/keep calm … people are always going to protect their own and may find it hard to believe that their child is a bully… or don’t want to!

    Remove info = legal obligation to do so, but can take time… esp e.g. YouTube where multiple copies can be made … best to think BEFORE posting (unlike post first, ask forgiveness later)
  • So, let’s have a brief look at who/why bullies partake…
  • Feels disconnected from impact of bullying (like WW2 bombers), and can find ways to justify it, often dehumanising the victim … it’s that danger of seeing the screen rather than the person behind the screen!
  • For many, it won’t be as simple as this. Your child won’t necessarily want to sit and listen, and may be actively looking for opportunities to bully once more, waiting until late at night to access the Internet, shutting down their devices as soon as their parents enter. This may be good time to monitor what your children are doing online, and restrict their access to technology…
  • If we refuse to engage – what is that doing .. Can be scary, but this phrase is powerful..
  • Things move fast, so others can pile in – but can also use this to your advantage to get other friends, etc. to support you as well…
  • A final encouraging thought to leave with…
  • ‘Stranger Danger’ (incredibly rare) – and as parents increasingly make friends online, again, seems ironic to say to kids ‘don’t’, rather than helping them do so safely..

    US survey in 2006 – out of nearly 200k abducted, only 12 were unknown… again, down to good comms…
  • Mobile = cheaper, more accessible, appropriate contracts – so now the tool of choice for many – including kids.

    FOMO/need to respond = little digifree time – is the mobile becoming an intruder on other situations – many have set rules re e.g. mealtimes, etc.
    Worries about e-babysitter – though “OK” for educational purposes.. Work with them as they download apps (and ensure password on – throughout = are simple things that can be done…)
    Ensuring mobile phone costs are managed, and what age (secondary school for most, smartphone GCSE..)
    Worries about shortform text = damaging use of English = more creative…
  • http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mmXr7oc/texting
  • Again = human behaviour exaggerated = more vulnerable offline, also online…

    Issues of the dangers of porn = complex, but tend to be condensed in the press… for years children have gone through ‘rite of passage’ – but now = easier to get hold of, more explicit, etc.. And changing expectations of what is normal sexual behaviour. Boys, unsurprisingly, more likely to seek it out (and is a danger as looking for those their age, are going to get in trouble for accessing those underage).

    Romance Academy - working particularly in church circles – keen to see that we have more to say about porn than ‘porn is bad’ – make it appear less acceptable that it’s ‘normal’, that it’s not about ‘being a man’, that girls also get wrong ideas, children take cues from adults, may be educational – but is it a good example – can open conversations, and help youngsters to feel less pressure to partake…

    Numbers of pedophiles difficult to determine as tend not to self-declare, and most stats comes from e.g. filtering companies… there is a danger, but more from those who are known – so good to be aware – and remember the technology can help you FIND children too…

    Sexting = age old pressure ‘if you don’t going to ditch you’ … so children need same advice to take care what share/when – as once out there – can spread fast…
  • Seen as Wild West, but it’s not – laws still apply (usually the originating country)

    Plagiarism, music, film, apps… dangers of viruses with illegal info…
  • Health Works

    Need to set up desk properly … more worrying = pro-mia sites, etc. advice on how to eat even less, etc.

    Brain changing – everything you do affects brain change = not necessarily bad…

    Addiction – is it really addiction? Is it affecting schoolwork, attention spans? Can people really multitask? Are these things all bad or are we just holding onto things that we treasure? Conversational ability (more social) and danger of couch potatoes – use whatever interest online and take it offline…
  • Standard advice = keep computer in a central room in the house – especially once teenage years = not really possible…

    Am Assoc Pead = consistently says 2 hours of screentime max …
    Bedroom culture; digital time out; reading online (is it about the book content or the book format?)
  • Gaming – not so much my thing, but increasing complexity of games online – without an end point, and rewards for the more time spent online/just one more level…

    Some argue has increased dexterity, sociability, esp for autistic kids…
    Are worries is violent, addictive and expensive… similar fears about horror films, most of which disproved by media ‘experts’.
  • Technology = prepares kids for the job market, OK to lurk & learn.

    Need for criticality (not always seen amongst early students) – need to be aware to avoid scams/Snopes, etc.
    Social Justice (clicktivism/activism)
  • I asked my questionnaire respondents what they thought were the benefits of the digital world, and their answers included: access to wide range of information (especially if not blocked by a filter), increased connection with family/friends regardless of distance, huge educational benefits for their future, giving children an opportunity to engage with the world as it is now, opportunities to demonstrate - and be involved in - collaboration, a positive impact on social life, the opportunity to make more flexible plans, tools to keep them occupied, a chance to enjoy spending time together on devices – or to learn from their children, the global nature of the online spaces, fun and entertainment, learning from games, improved hand-eye co-ordination, the speed of communication, new opportunities for creativity, learning to be critical, enhanced personal safety, increased accessibility for those with disabilities, and prospects for increased creativity.
  • I spotted this on Facebook as I was coming to the end of writing this book. It was posted by Will Taylor (communications manager, youth worker, and dad), and seems to sum up what is required of parents in the digital sphere:
    Do it for them Do it with them Watch while they do it Let them do it for themselves.
  • Parents increasingly taking responsibility for grandkids – need to be consistent – greatest growth = accessing pics
    Teachers = particular concerns – much of it defensive, but how can encourage children to engage whilst protecting self
    Youth leaders = need for good boundaries, etc.
  • Only constancy is change … cannot make Internet 100% safe so need to give children confidence/skills – by giving them opportunities to engage online… (swimming pool analogy)
  • Final word – remember – there is always a human being at the other end of the keyboard… think before you type…

  • Raising Children in a Digital Age, Hexham June 2014

    1. 1. Dr Bex Lewis Director, Digital Fingerprint CODEC, Durham University 13 June 2014:Hexham Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
    2. 2. Published by Lion Hudson February 2014
    3. 3. Let’s “tweet” each other…
    4. 4. Feel the Fear….
    5. 5. The End is Nigh!
    6. 6. Digital Culture: It Matters!
    7. 7. http://youtu.be/zxpa4dNVd3c
    8. 8. The Toolbox
    9. 9. Doug Ray: http://instagram.com/p/nm695
    10. 10. Are they digital natives?
    11. 11. Communicate Communicate Communicate
    12. 12. Is privacy dead?
    13. 13. To monitor or not to monitor?
    14. 14. Just because you can … doesn’t mean you should!
    15. 15. H.A.L.T. If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, step away from the keyboard/keypad and deal with that issue first. http://redcatco.com/communication/stop-posting-social-media/
    16. 16. Relationships…
    17. 17. The Bullied The Bully The Bystander
    18. 18. The Bullied
    19. 19. Signs specific to cyber-bullying? • Long hours on the computer • Secretive Internet use • Screen minimization • Refusing to log on or answer phone • Extreme possessiveness of phone, to which constant nervous looks are given.
    20. 20. 5.5  71
    21. 21. Emotionally: • No shame: not their fault • Don’t threaten their online access • Spend extra time together: time for communication • Nurture self-confidence
    22. 22. Practically: • Don’t respond • Keep copies of messages as ‘proof’ • Understand how to ‘block’ accounts • Talk to child re contacting school • Think hard before talking to parents of bully • Request webhost to remove • Get phone number blocked
    23. 23. The Bully
    24. 24. Disinhibition The bully doesn’t see the distress that they cause, feels safe from capture, and protected by the technology, able to say things that they would never say offline.
    25. 25. Any solutions? • Remove their Internet and mobile privileges (for a fixed period) • Get them to write an essay on the dangers of cyberbullying • Assign him/her a book to read about cyberbullying • Assign him/her to community service or other time-consuming activity. • Encourage them to apologise and take responsibility
    26. 26. The Bystander(s)
    27. 27. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing Quote commonly (and probably erroneously) attributed to Edmund Burke
    28. 28. Digital Allies
    29. 29. Ferguson, a professor from Texas A&M who researches technologies’ effects on human behaviour: “Youth today are the least aggressive, most civically involved, and mentally well in several generations .” ‘Imagining the Internet: Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives’, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_Future_of_Internet_2012_Young_brains_PDF.pdf, 29/02/12
    30. 30. Stranger Danger
    31. 31. Increasingly Mobile
    32. 32. • No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does. • All the fun stuff is happening elsewhere. On their mobiles. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/10/teenagers-messenger-apps-facebook-exodus
    33. 33. Sex Talk (Porn, Pedophilia and Sexting)
    34. 34. Keeping within the Law
    35. 35. Physical Setup Brain Changes Addiction Multitasking Conversational Ability Couch Potatoes
    36. 36. Screen time and family dynamics
    37. 37. Gaming
    38. 38. Does the digital age offer life opportunities?
    39. 39. Can social media be positive? • Wide range of information • Increased connectivity and collaboration • Educational benefits • Global nature of online • New creative opportunities • Learning criticality • Increased accessibility for those with disabilities
    40. 40. Do it for them Do it with them Watch while they do it Let them do it for themselves.
    41. 41. Grandparents (teachers, youth leaders)
    42. 42. Looking to the future
    43. 43. @drbexl @digitalfprint @bigbible Image credits: Stockfresh, RGBStock, iStockphoto