What follows is an excerpt from my new book: Tuned in Family: How to Cope, Communicate, and Connect in a Digital World.
One of the biggest challenges parents face when it comes to digital communication technologies is knowing which tools are the most appropriate for their children and for themselves.
Because the tools themselves change every day. New advances bring new conveniences and greater ease of use and sharing. Your children’s schools may introduce a new learning management system that allows you access to grades and information, a new video game entices your child, an upgraded cell phone operating system adds more bells and whistles. Keeping up is hard enough for yourself, but add in the responsibility of your children and it becomes even more complex.
A simple way to assess the appropriateness of a digital communication technology for your family is to run it through the following test which I call “PAVER”. Think of it as paving your way to technology success.
- Purpose: First determine the purpose of the tool. Is it a word processing software? Is it an application that helps you check the weather? Is it a console game? Is it a social network?
- Age Appropriateness: Then, is it age appropriate? Is your child mature enough to handle the environment and user interface? Can they manage the responsibility of the tool?
- Value: Next, assess the value of the tool for the family. Does it provide entertainment? Is it educational? Does it allow for ease of connection for your family?
- EULA: Then be sure to read the End User License Agreement (EULA). This is where the company that makes the product lays out the legal implications for use of their product/service and they tell you limitations as well as what they do with content. Be sure you agree with EULA and are willing to conform to requirements.
- Reviews/Resources: Finally, take some time to read reviews, view videos, and utilize resources to learn more about the tool so you are educated.
Consider the different games, devices, and software you use throughout your day. Think about the same things your children use throughout the day. Have you ever really thought about the purpose of it in your life? In your children’s lives? What value does it bring to your life? And of course, do you understand the End User License Agreement — all that wonderful legal stuff that comes with the apps and software we all use every day? This is what PAVER can help you with.
I highly recommend these resources to help you as you consider different technology tools for your family.
- Common Sense Media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/
- DigitalLiteracy.gov: http://www.digitalliteracy.gov
- EduTopia.org: http://www.edutopia.org/digital-literacy-technology-parent-resources