Do you ever wonder how a toddler can pick up a cell phone, or another mobile device, and easily navigate the device without ever having to be instructed on how to use it? Or how students can multi-task with technology by texting, social media surfing, and watching television all at the same time? Our children are digital natives, and we are digital immigrants.
My belief is that we should all be “Digital Explorers”.
We live in a technology-driven society that provides us with quick and easy access to just about anything at anytime. Teachers can no longer use the, “I’m too old to learn tech” excuse, because technology is here to stay. As teachers, it is our job to protect our children from the dangers that exist, and help them develop healthy tech habits, and become responsible digital citizens. Not sure how? Try these:
Tip 1: Talk about it
Empower them with the knowledge to protect their personal information, and to be aware of their digital footprint. Teach them the T.H.I.N.K. acronym when deciding what’s appropriate to share online. (T- is it true? H- is it helpful? I- is it Inspiring? N- is it necessary? K- is it Kind?)
Additionally, explain to them the dangers that exist online, and discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Talk about cyber bullying, and remind them that what they post has an impact on others, whether good or bad, and just because you shutdown your computer, doesn’t make it go away.
Two great resources, interactive games, and videos for helping kids learn healthy ways to use the Internet are www.netsmartz.org, and www.isafe.org. These sites have useful information for kids, teens, and parents.
Tip 2: Put your game face on!
You may not know everything there is to know about technology, but your student doesn’t have to know this. Make an effort to understand the basics of technology. The simplest answer I can give you if you don’t understand something, Google it! Educate yourself and stay informed about new devices, and websites. Talk to other teachers, visit blogs, and learn how others are using online resources. Become a part of this ever-expanding digital world by exploring technology for yourself. You will be surprised what you might find.
Tip 3: Set rules
Establish ground rules for using the computer in your classroom and or mobile devices like cell phones, and tablets, and create a public area for using technology devices so that you can monitor exactly what your students are doing. When using mobile devices, use the Application Reflector to monitor what they are doing, or use the Guided Access feature on the iPad to lock it down to one app.
You should also set daily time limits for using technology, and require them to share with you their usernames and passwords for their social media accounts when using them in class. Create a technology contract or use your school’s technology acceptable usage agreement. Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that provides tools and curricula for teachers and parents to support the digital generation.
Tip 4: Learn through technology
Technology is more than gaming and web browsing. It can be a positive learning tool. This digital world we live in allows our kids to easily create, explore, collaborate, share ideas, and discover learning opportunities that weren’t accessible 20 years ago. There are more powerful technology tools today than in any generation before.
As such, allow your students to use their tech knowledge to create real-world learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom. Explore the wonderful things you can create with digital media like, sharing a class digital project with a family member who lives in a different city, or skyping with a classroom in another part of the globe.
As an educator, you should provide your students with the 21st century skills they need to thrive and compete in a global society. Starting with these four tips will help equip you with the resources you need to help your child make smart decisions in the digital world where they live, work, and play.
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