Why I Wrote “Raising Humans in a Digital World”
It's tough deciding what to talk to parents about in a :90 minute presentation. Impossible even. There are so many important topics to cover when it comes to raising digital kids! For example:
Screen Time. Certainly this is the topic of the day. Every parent is worried about the amount of time kids spend staring at screens and they want to know what to do.
Reputation Management: Parents also hope their kids will go to college or get a job someday. So they want to know how to help their offspring build online reputations that will open doors, not close windows, to future opportunities.
Cyberbullying and Sexting. Naturally they also want to know how to help their kids avoid big dangers online, like these two.
Social Media. Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Ask.fm, TikTok, and more. The list of social media sites and apps that kids love and parents want to learn about is long (and changes regularly).
Online Games. This topic deserves a talk of its own. Parents want to know why kids are so “addicted” to games like Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and more.
Privacy and Personal Information. Parents ask: What should kids keep private online? What do companies, and schools for that matter, do with the personal information they collect?
Certainly you can see my dilemma.
This is far too much to cram into a 90-minute presentation. On top of that, most schools and communities don’t have the time or budget to bring in experts to address all of the above.
So I’m delivering the experts to you.
While writing "Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology," I interviewed dozens of experts—each one is passionate, smart, and experienced in his or her field—to give you the most cutting edge and vital information on these topics (please see list below). Plus, I share my own stories--collected from teaching digital literacy (via Cyber Civics) for nearly a decade, meeting students and parents across the U.S., studying media psychology, and raising two digital kids of my own. I didn't want to leave a stone unturned!
Finally, not every school in America will find the time or acknowledge the urgency of teaching digital literacy. While that’s a crying shame, it’s also why I wrote this book. You’ll find it full of “Cyber Civics” moments—fun, easy “digital literacy” activities that any busy family can do together at home.
How To Use This Book
In the book I compare the task of helping kids build a healthy relationship with technology to building a house. This building project is divided into three parts. You can start at the part that pertains to you and your kids:
Part One: A Solid Foundation.
Your child’s house must be built upon a solid foundation, and part one explains where to start. The skills you nurture in your children while they are young will pay off in spades as they grow older.
Part Two: A Sturdy Structure.
The next step is to help your children build a sturdy structure, comprised of four strong pillars, that will withstand any digital storms that may blow their way. It will be as durable and secure as the effort you both put into it.
Part Three: A Vibrant Community.
Here’s the fun part. Once you have a strong foundation and sturdy structure in place, part three will show you how to help your children connect and engage— critically and confidently—with new communities and opportunities online. The goal is for youth to use digital technologies to learn, inspire, be inspired, and share their unique talents with the world.
Use the Discussion Guide
Finally, I hope this book inspires contemplation and discussion. You are encouraged to download its comprehensive discussion guide and to organize meetings between the parents, grandparents, and teachers in your community to talk about these very important topics.
Remember, our generation has made connected devices a fact of life for the next one. We thrust gadgets into their little palms with virtually no guidance, no role models, and sometimes even years before they were cognitively prepared to use them well. We owe it to kids to make time to understand the complex online world, and to help them navigate it successfully.
And I hope this book will help!
Experts featured in this book (I urge you to visit their sites to learn more about their work):
Dr. Michele Borba: "UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World"
Sue Scheff: "Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion in an Age of Cruelty..."
Alan Katzman, Social Assurity
Richard Guerry, Institute for Responsible Online and Cellphone Communication
Sameer Hinduja, Cyberbullying Research Center
Justin Patchin, Cyberbullying Research Center
Ross Ellis, STOMPOutBullying
Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Media Psychology Research Center
Matthew Soeth, #ICANHELP
Michelle C Lipkin, National Association of Media Literacy Education @ciullalipkin d
Chip Donohue, Technology in Early Childhood Center
Dr. Michelle Drouin, Relationship and Technology Expert
Dr. Pamela Hurst Pietra, Children and Screens
Erin Reilly, reillyWorks
Liz Repking, Cyber Safety Consulting