Sunday, March 2, 2008

Understanding your 21st Century Teenager

A conversation about the rapidly changing world of technology and its impact on your adolescent.

A colleague (school counselor) and I are organizing some conversations with parents about Teens and technology. We would like to facilitate a discussion about both the benefits, and the challenges of parenting a plugged in teen. Our challenges are to make it a conversation, NOT a presentation, about more than just Internet safety. So many "Internet Safety" presentations are "scare-fests" that freak us out about Internet predators lurking behind every URL. Teenagers and parents have so much to gain from knowing how to get around in a networked world!

Imagine a teenager who starts a blog when she is 13. Over the next four years she writes weekly about her ideas and interests. By the time she is 17, she will have amassed a portfolio of her writing and interests that will show her growth both as a writer and as a thinker. As her blog develops a readership, she will collect a community of people who will respond to her ideas and stimulate new ones. The potential for learning is huge and in my opinion, far outweigh the risks!

David Warlick's recent blog post, New Report on Internet Predators, pointed me to some new research by the American Psychological Association which breaks down many of the stereotypes about Internet predators. While we do take risks when we are Online, many of these risks have been exaggerated. Kids are going to be Online, and I truly believe that is a great thing! Yes we need to educate them about how to be responsible and safe while they are there, but we also need to educate them about how to use the Internet to its full potential.

I want to particularly thank Kate Olson, who helped inspire this idea and has been generously sharing her resources with me and helping me to gather my own. As always my edtech-network is a living example of the power of the Internet.

Image Citation: "" Leonard John Matthews' Photostream on Flickr. 25August 2007. [] 2 March 2008 .


Anonymous said...

Liz, thanks for posts on this topic. I work with private Catholic schools in Mexico, which is 90% Catholic and very traditional. Change is not always embraced, even with a globalized world encroaching. Being well-versed on Internet safety while promoting 21st Century skills in education is vitally key here! Thanks again to you, Kate and other that are putting resources based on experience and at our fingertips.

This is why you are profiled on my blog, Faces of Web 2.0 ★ 21st Century Teachers

Thanks, Frank

Anonymous said...

Liz -

I'm so glad to hear (via twitter) that your workshop is possibly going to be "overly popular"! What more could you ask for? I loved your flyer you shared with me and think this issue is more and more important with every day that passes. In a class on Friday I had a student show me the wikis he joined at the CBS website (Criminal Minds and CSI) and another student emailed me just this weekend saying that she created her own blog. Our students are using the collaborative web outside of school and it's our job as parents and educators to teach digital citizenship and net etiquette the same way we teach table manners! I also had a student tell me how sometimes he just goes on blogs and leaves gobbledygook comments for fun. We need to be teaching that this is NOT ok! Can you tell I'm passionate about this? :-)

Unknown said...

We had one of those scarefests at our school recently. The few parents who showed up left thinking they needed to throw their kids' computers out the window. I spoke to my students about their parents reactions and what they might like to say to their parents. With seventh graders you never know what you're going to get, but their answers were thoughtful and, in most cases, straight to the point. My favorite was, "I don't think they like the fact that we know more than they do about something." My second favorite: "We're smarter than they give us credit for."

What came out of that conversation is my students would like to create a presentation to give to the parents on internet safety. I think this could be very interesting. I've already gotten an email from one of the parents who is very excited about this.

What I would like to say to the parents is: your children are already out there chatting and IMing and [gasp!] using MySpace and Facebook. Let's move on. Let's teach them how to behave properly in a global environment.

Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Voicethread is a great web tool for encouraging interaction. It might provide a safe and easy way to begin that conversation in a public, asynchronous manner.

I have been collecting examples of how educators are using Voicethread in their classroom or for professional development on a wiki at:

Best of luck,
Colette Cassinelli

Saw your blog address on Classroom 2.0

commarama said...

I had never thought about using a blog as a means of presenting an ongoing writing portfolio. This is a simple, yet brilliant idea. Students could easily retain months worth of blog entries (possibly based on prompts) and assess their growth throughout the school year.

In regards to the need for conversations about Internet safety, I think it is absolutely necessary that both teens and parents be a part of the discussion. Often times, parents are clueless as to their son or daughter's activities online. Students are creating two accounts for various social networking sites to friend their parents on one and maintain their social interactions on the other. Some antics are typical privacy concerns of teens; however, teens need to be aware of the consequences of indulging too much in online communities, revealing too much information, and not filtering their posts or added friends. As a teacher, I've had parents ask questions about topics related to Internet safety, and I definitely think there would be a lot of interest in opening up a forum for dialogue.