Want to know what kids are doing online? It’s crucial to be involved—and not the creepy, watching-over-their-shoulders-every-second kind of involved. Modern parents need to be nuanced and thoughtful when monitoring their kids’ lives.
Marianne Malmstrom, a teacher at the Elisabeth Morrow School, encourages parents to ask questions about what kids do online, and participate if they can. Kids “require supervision and guidance in virtual spaces,” Malmstrom says. These days, creating accounts and signing up for websites is easy. You won’t need to show your kids how to do it—they’ll figure it out themselves.
Instead, adults need to find more deliberate and sensitive ways to be present. “It’s unrealistic to think we can lock them out of the digital world until they turn 13. We need to find constructive ways to connect with them, online as well as offline, because they still need our wisdom.”
Malmstrom’s students use Minecraft, a sandbox game, to participate in online lessons and communicate while building 21st century learning skills. “I have never seen students so excited to learn,” she says of program.
This learning doesn’t need to be restricted to school. “Our experiences in Minecraft are showing me that students learn a lot more when they are given responsibility both for their own learning and for co-management of their learning environments,” Malmstrom says. As such, she has a lot of advice for adults who want to support their child’s online presence.
“At home, take the time to play (or watch) games with your children. It’s the most natural as well as effective way to learn how and where they play online. Ask questions. Invite your child to teach you to play the game.” Kids always want to show off what they can do and what they have learned. It’s up to adults to engage with them and appreciate their efforts.
When it comes to safety issues, Malmstrom recommends simply being involved. “Do your homework and learn about the policies of the games your child plays. Read game chat to ensure that activities and language are conducive to your family values. If you don’t know how, ask your child to show you.”
Through careful parent-child interaction, today’s kids will learn to be smart digital citizens.
(Source: A Platform for Good)