The Parenting in the Digital Age teen panel was made up of 7th and 8th graders including, back row, left to right, Xander Puliatti, Levi Arroyo, India Loudermilk, Isaac Hwangpo, Paula Calderas Colin, and Sade Watkins; front row, Keyvon Lavender, Cagney Watson, Lakiya Freeman, Sergey Klochkov, and DJ Oakman.
Digital Citizenship Presentation
Provides Parents Much-Needed Information
Simmons is a school that makes digital citizenship a priority and because parenting children in the digital space is a challenge, a presentation and teen panel was held last month. The presentation, Parenting in the Digital Age, was well-attended and provided some much-needed guidance for parents.Thank you to our school’s Instructional Technology Specialist Jeff Richardson for coordinating this presentation.
The event began with the panel discussion of 7th and 8th grade Simmons’ students. The topics and questions posed to the students were taken from a parent survey that was completed by almost 150 parents. Students were asked to speak on topics including: their morning routines; face-to-face versus digital communication; how they deal with issues such as bullying; posting inappropriate material on social media; and the challenges of feeling like they need to be connected 24/7.
Some great insights that came out of their sharing:
- Despite the popular idea that students would rather communicate via text than talk face-to-face, students do understand the value of face-to-face communication and most of them want to maintain a healthy balance in their lives.
- There is a wide diversity among teens as to the importance of being connected and using social media. Some shared that they have no trouble unplugging, while others spend a majority of their time in the digital world.
- It was very apparent that boundaries put in place by parents regarding technology have a great impact on the choices teens make. Some know their devices are being monitored and that heavily influences what they do in the digital space, while others operate with few boundaries and find that sometimes they are overwhelmed by too many choices. Boundaries do matter and they are necessary for teens.
In the end, the panel made it clear that they don’t see technology and the digital world as always being the best choice. However, they know that they have their work cut out for them when it comes to balancing their digital lives and choosing how they spend their time. Surprising for many parents was the reality that some teens actually do want to unplug and appreciate time that doesn’t require the pressure that comes from the digital space.
Small Group Discussion
Following the panel discussion, parents were given time to discuss what they heard from the panel within small groups. Some shared personal experiences related to the topics addressed while others shared the rules and strategies they used in their own homes.
At the end of the evening, the overwhelming feedback was that the panel gave a needed perspective to the conversation and that the conversation must continue. Parents left feeling empowered as did the students who shared. The students were able to see that what they had to say mattered, and that their voices are important in this conversation on digital citizenship; parents walked away with new insights that will hopefully help them support their kids.
An event like this was hosted at Berry Middle School in October 2016 with a very similar outcome. Hoover City Schools is intentionally making this conversation a priority and will continue to offer opportunities for parents to be a part of it.
The Parenting in the Digital Age presentation and teen panel was part of the Common Sense Education’s Connecting Families Program. As part of the comprehensive digital citizenship education plan at Simmons, it is critical to make sure that families are being educated and engaged in the conversation. The goal of having the students share their perspectives and insights was to help parents anticipate how to provide their children the support they need and to be better equipped to effectively parent in the coming years.