Connecting Digital Lives

https://flic.kr/p/b5iJuF​At the start of the year, I had high hopes for sparking conversation with parents when I produced the laptop orientation sessions for our freshmen. We wouldn’t allow the computers in our 1:1 program to go home until parents attended an information session and signed the paperwork.  I ended up sharing information that the district wanted them to know about fees and some other tips for care.  Next year, I think we need to do more.

I had an interesting conversation with a parent who wanted us to keep the loaner laptop at school because her son was only using it to play games and watch music after school. By the end of the conversation, which was partly a need for her to vent about his suspension, she agreed to take the laptop up at night and give it back in the morning. Parents are learning right along with us.

Some have learned the hardest lessons.

Digital Native image by T. Faltings licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0.  No changes have been made.

Digital Native image by T. Faltings licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0. No changes have been made.​At the start of the year, I had high hopes for sparking conversation with parents when I produced the laptop orientation sessions for our freshmen. We wouldn’t allow the computers in our 1:1 program to go home until parents attended an information session and signed the paperwork.  I ended up sharing information that the district wanted them to know about fees and some other tips for care.  Next year, I think we need to do more.

Many people have a vague understanding of what it’s like to be young in the digital age. As the adults in the room we think we know, but we can’t help seeing things through our own lenses..  “Well when I was in school…” is usually how it starts.  Our reflections about growing up are not the same as the experiences our adolescents are having in “public”.  The whole definition of adolescent has been changing.

Last month, I had an interesting conversation with a parent who wanted us to keep the loaner laptop at school because her son was only using it to play games and watch music after school. By the end of the conversation, which was partly a need for her to vent about his suspension, she agreed to take the laptop up at night and give it back in the morning. Parents are learning right along with us.

Some have learned the hardest lessons.

A few weeks ago, I heard a story on the radio program On the Media about a teen who died from complications after a suicide attempt. It was yet another story about a photograph that went viral that resulted in a teenager’s death. Rehtaeh Parsons’ story is a bit different, though. Her mother has been on the receiving end of cyberbullying, even as she tries to help other parents.

It’s ironic that Rehtaeh’s likeness can be spread around the internet and follow her even in death, but her name can be “erased” from the news coverage of the charges.

https://flic.kr/p/oTnxryTech-savvy teens are creating apps that allow for anonymity, to an extent.   I watch a lot of crime shows that are always looking for forensic evidence and have been leery of apps that erase traces of cyberbulling or sexting.  After hearing Rehtaeh’s story, maybe letting things disappear would be a good thing.  Not everything should stay on the internet in perpetuity, especially while these young people are still forming their identities and are bound to make mistakes.  Ones that shouldn’t follow them for the rest of the lives.  The European Union is on board with the “right to be forgotten.”   This right is far from what Rahtaeh’s father wants for her, but we are still figuring out what it means to have digital footprints.

Common Sense Media has a program called Connecting Families, sponsored by the National PTA, that could be implemented to help us all work together as we untangle the complex web and the implications of living in it.  The resources come in English and Spanish.

If I could dismantle my hybrid job and focus on my Technology role, I would work to connect families’ digital lives to our still-emerging connected school lives.  Nothing is going to improve if we don’t address the virtual elephants in the room.  Maybe nothing could have prevented Rahtaeh from ending her life, but couldn’t we strive to prevent the behavior of the boy who took the photo in the first place?

We can do a better job of being the connected spokes of parents, community/church members, educators, mentors and others surrounding our children at the hub. How have you started connecting digital lives in your school and community?

Digital Native image by T. Faltings licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0.  No changes have been made.

Snapchat image by Maurizio Pesce licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. No changes have been made.

Update: NEA’s GPS Network has a Teen Suicide Prevention Webinar scheduled for Wednesday, December 9th at 10 p.m. ET in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week.  Please retweet the shortened link: http://bit.ly/1B6SiYQ