Facebook threw me an emotional throwback photo of my kids 4 years ago. The picture had both my kids in my classroom on a Saturday playing around on computers while I got some work done (yes I do work on weekends often!) I stopped and thought about what they were doing then on technology and what they are creating now. Then, they were looking up any games they could. My daughter was 5 and my son was 8. I remember watching them get on mindless games and letting them play around while I went about my afternoon working. I also remember logging them into a Roller Coaster tycoon game and a management simulation I use in my high school courses. That Saturday afternoon, I had a conversation with my two young kids about what I saw in the classroom that made my students either succeed or fail. I chatted with them about mindless games and how people were making money off users by splashing the screen with advertisements and links to outside websites. I was real with what was behind the games on computers and smartphones.
Did they listen on the edge of their seats to me?
No. They did get the message though. Having these conversations with your kids when they are young will keep it fresh in their minds that technology can be a tool that they can use or a tool that can use them to make money for others.
I am happy to say that four years after that picture was taken, I asked my kids if they remembered it. The specifics were blurry to them as they remember the room and the school but not really the things they were doing on the computer.
So how do I know my conversations with them work?
Today, my son is almost 13 and he has a car detailing business. He has taught himself how to set up a website and some social media to connect with potential customers. My daughter is almost 10 and she has been working on figuring out how to make an iMovie and put it on her YouTube channel. She wants to capture people's attention and entertain them with her stories she makes up with some toys. For both of them, it has not been an easy road. My son struggles to understand why people don’t just go to his website and find the answers he is asked of his customers. My daughter worked for days on a film only to learn it was too big to upload from her iPad. There has been frustration and tears in their processes. There have been failures. A lot of them. And it is my job to see that they learn from them. They are figuring it out. By working on these projects with technology together, my kids an I are understanding that technology is not to be feared. It is something to make things happen for the better. It is something they can use as a tool. They understand that they can also get used by other people’s technology.
If you have children, don’t let your kids get used by technology by not engaging in conversation and working with them on it. Talk with them about what they like on their phones and computers. Have them teach you a few things. Learn from them. Find more things online they would be interested in and start projects with them on technology. Use is as a tool to bring you closer to your kids. It works for me and it can work for you.
Just another way to #disrupteducation