Even as a blogger immersed in technology, I find myself resistant to teaching technology to my 7 year old son. Spending so much of my time online each day, I’ve been trying to preserve my son from becoming a technology-addict before his preteen years. With kids in his second grade class already owning cell phones, some having Facebook pages, and others with email addresses, I know that I am behind the times on getting technology to my kid.
Recently, Sunnyvale giant Yahoo! hosted the 5th Annual Digital Citizenship Summit. With over 100 educators and school IT professionals, the conference continued its focus on how to create/improve/expand digital citizenship in schools. In other words, how do we prevent cyberbulling, teen sexting, and the severe consequences that can come when minors have more technology at their fingertips?
Kimberly and I had the pleasure of attending the conference on behalf of Silicon Valley Mamas. The day was packed to the gills with presentations, focus groups, and guest panels. So much so that I felt like the Summit could have been a week long. After attending the Summit, I’ve decided that less technology is a good thing. I wouldn’t give my son my car keys at seven and tell him it’s time to learn how to drive. It’s okay to wait. It’s okay to slowly introduce it. In fact, “the experts” encourage parents to put on the brakes, learn it themselves, and coach their kids to understand the safest way to play online, or text, or email, or Twitter, or… you get my point.
I want my son to be a good kid. And by “good kid,” I mean that I want him to understand how to act, how to treat his friends, and even more importantly, how to treat kids that aren’t his friends but deserve his respect just as much. I want him to be a good kid regardless of whether he is online or in person. Period.
While some of Darius’s friends play in many online virtual worlds (it seems like every company has one these days), we’ve been very slow to adopt these into our technological repertoire. I’d rather that my son play with his friends on the playground than on Club Penguin. I’d prefer that he write a thank you note than send an email (although we have let him type letters in the past to gain keyboard skills). As a blogger who has found the value of the virtual community, I still want my son to root himself in the real world before joining the world wide web.
All because I firmly believe that if my son is taught how to be a good citizen, then he’ll understand what it means to be a good cyber citizen. And that the right thing to do is still possible online – even on Facebook.