Thursday, April 11, 2013

Internet: Purposeful!

Media is a tool.  It seems prudent to teach its use from the perspective of a tool.  Think of tools such as a telephone, refrigerator, or knife.  Tools are essential, powerful, purposeful, has boundaries of use, and require respect.

Refrigerators empower a child to get themselves a snack from the bottom shelf.  Wohoo! One step closer to productive independent citizens of the world!  If they leave the door open, the food spoils.  If they fill it full of dirt from the garden, that's gross.  If they get stuck in a fridge, they suffocate.  It's just a fridge, everyone needs one, and we teach our kids how to use it.  Have you noticed yourself teaching fridge lessons?

In teaching the internet, let's start by calling out great opportunities for its use with our kids.  Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  • "Hey kids, I'm in the kitchen and I'm trying to cook a tasty meal.  I'm not exactly sure how I want to season the salmon tonight, so let me grab the tablet (laptop, phone, ect) and search for some ideas."  Share with them the site you go to, the words you search, the results you get, and why you pick one site over another.  There's no age too young to talk about this, get yourself in the habit. Eventually, you can involve them in doing the searching without wiping your hands.
  • "I need to pay the electric bill.  I'm going to log onto our bank site, and create an automatic transfer."  The point isn't to teach them how to pay the bill, rather, that it's a tool that can help.  Use this example to talk about where electric comes from.  If they're old enough, play a naming game of what does and does not use electric around the house. 
  • "Grandma would love to see the holiday pictures while she's visiting, let's show her".  If they don't already know how, teach them to navigate to pictures and drive the "slide show".  Teach them how to scroll slow/fast enough for others to enjoy what they are being shown, and to share stories about the pictures if they can.  Caution: be prepared to segue away from the electronic, pictures are bedazzling.
  • If you are texting, checking email, or many of the other activities that make up the "at least once per hour" statistic, vocalize to your children what you are doing if you are in their presence.  "I'm replying to our friend Mary, she's interested in coming over for dinner on Thursday." or "I'm checking my email, because I'm waiting for a very important message about my schedule tomorrow."   This helps me be more mindful when I choose to check my devices, and occasionally, I realize my reason is not that important.  Use this opportunity to describe the purpose of text messages or emails.
  • Another great one, particularly if you have Facetime, Skype, or other video phone system, let your child be involved in talking to friends or family over the phone.  What aunt doesn't enjoy a dizzying view up your child's nose!?  Teach them how to point, and show them where they can see their own image.  This part of the conversation involves a dual effort to teach good phone/video habits. Older kids can learn how to initiate phone calls, turn on and off the video feature, ect.
  • Think up some other ideas and post them as comments.  The internet is vast, my examples are few!
Once the job is done, teach putting the electronic away.

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