Developing Your Techno-Literacy (page 3)
Get Techno-Literate Yourself
Every time I get with the program, someone changes the channel.” I’ve heard several variations of this over the years from many of the adults I have worked with. Chances are that you are overwhelmed at the thought of learning about technology, I do understand. In fact, because a significant part of my career has focused on counseling technology, I often feel like I have to keep up with two areas of discipline: professional counseling and educational technology. However, there is some good news. First of all, you don’t have to learn it all at once. Develop a series of goals for yourself that includes small and consistent steps towards an overall program of “keeping up.” You have already started by reading this book. Take what you’ve learned here, use the supplementary websites and references, and continue advancing your knowledge and skills a little bit each day. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking “bytes” and “gigs” with the rest of us. Here are some other tips for developing your techno-literacy:
- Subscribe to e-mail newsletters (most are free) that focus on helping you become more technologically literate. This way, the tips and tricks for dealing with technology come to you in a manageable way. For instance, some of the more popular periodic newsletters include:
- Technology Horizons in Education (T.H.E.) is a free magazine for educators dedicated to technology solutions in education. http://www.thejournal.com/
- Edutopia Magazine gives practical, hands-on insight into what works, what’s on the horizon, and who is shaping the changing future of education. http://www.edutopia.org/
- ResearchBuzz is designed to cover the world of Internet research. To that end this site provides almost daily updates on search engines, new data managing software, browser technology, large compendiums of information, Web directories — whatever. If in doubt, the final question is, “Would a reference librarian find it useful?” If the answer’s yes, in it goes!. http://www.researchbuzz.com/
- Ask Bob Rankin about computers, viruses, spyware, search engines or almost anything about the Internet. http://www.askbobrankin.com/
- Technology tips and news from Kim Komando, the “Digital Goddess.” http://www.komando.com/
- On-Line Technology Tutorials From Around the World Wide Web. http://www.internet4classrooms.com/on-line2.htm
- Internet for Information and Communication Technology (A free, “teach yourself” tutorial that lets you practice your Internet Information Skills). http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/tutorial/ict
- Interview your child about the latest and greatest technologies from his/her perspective. Ask as if you don’t know such as, “I heard someone on the radio the other day talking about how he was listening to his podcast, do you know what that is?” You may be surprised to learn just how much your child understands (after they get over the shock of you using the techno-lingo).
- Use any popular search engine with keywords presented in this book (e.g., social network, cell phone and children, iPod, etc.) and add the word “tutorial” which will result in all kinds of valuable demonstrations and instructions. I have also found that the keywords “parenting technology” [without the quotes] work very well at uncovering valuable resources.
- Go online as if you were a child. Search blog sites children frequent to see what information they are posting and use search engines or other sources to find out what it all means.
- Take a class at a local community college or vocational/technical school. Perhaps you might even enroll with your child and make it a shared experience.
- Learn how to use your computer in your own home, at your own pace, on your own schedule by using computer training software. For instance, I enjoy products from http://www.599cd.com.
- Check out Online Technology Tutorials from the Kent School District, Washington. http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/KSD/IT/TSC/prof_dev/tutorials.html
Technology is changing every day and so it’s important to keep up and stay aware as much as possible. This isn’t easy although nobody said that effective parenting was easy.
Understand the Code: The New Shorthand
You walk over to your child while she is on a computer chatroom, IM, or as they are “chatting” on their cell phone and you notice that she writes, “POS CUL8R.” You assume such gibberish is a mistake or shrug it off as silly pre-adolescent banter. It probably is, no different than how you and I operated at that age. Although if you knew that these acronyms stood for “Parent Over Shoulder See You Later,” you may want to know more about what she is talking about to better determine her level of safety. Some “codes” may be more alerting than others. What if you noticed your child receiving shorthand such as ASL or TDTM. The first asks for “Age, Sex, and Location” and the second stands for “Talk Dirty to Me” – two very commonly used abbreviations from others who may very well have disingenuous motives.
Children (and some adults) have developed their own type of shorthand to quickly keep up with the pace of communication in chatrooms, on cell phones, and via instant messaging. When the “room” is filled with 20, 30, or more people, the conversation can be fast and furious. In the case of cell phone text messaging, the “keyboard” or dial pad is very small and cumbersone which also leads to the need to be brief and concise. Some chat or other messaging environments do not support multimedia exchanges which limit users in how they can express themselves beyond simple words. These limitations of time and technology have spawned a new set of acronyms and symbols. What some children have also discovered is that the same language may be effective in communicating with other children while keeping their parents “in the dark.” The bad news for parents is that these symbols may be difficult to decipher without continued exposure and practice. While participating in some fast paced chatrooms, I still have to keep a computer lingo dictionary or online converter open just to keep up. Its like being in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language. Here are a few websites that should help:
Also, check out http://www.netlingo.com/ for some helpful lists such as The NetLingo Top 20 Internet Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know and 50 More Internet Acronyms Every Parent Should Know.
Online Instructional Modules
Help is available to you for teaching your children (and/or students) how to be as safe as possible in a high-tech world. In addition to having discussions, I recommend that you spend some time together on some websites designed for this very purpose. On these sites, you will find tutorials, quizzes, animated lessons, and more:
1. NetSmartz. The NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational safety resource that teaches kids and teens how to stay safer on the Internet. NetSmartz combines the newest technologies available and the most current information to create high-impact educational activities that are well received by even the most tech-savvy kids. Parents, guardians, educators, and law enforcement also have access to additional resources for learning and teaching about the dangers children may face online. NetSmartz was created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). http://www.netsmartz.org/
2. Don’t Believe the Type. This information was adapted from Teen Safety on the Information Highway written by Lawrence J. Magid, a syndicated columnist, media commentator, and host of www.safekids.com and www.safeteens.com. He is also the author of The Little PC Book (Peach Pit Press, 1993). http://tcs.cybertipline.com/
3. GetNetWise. The Internet is an increasingly important place to work, play and learn for both adults and children. At the same time, we are concerned about the risks we face online. The challenge is to stay “one-click” ahead of would-be pornographers, hackers, child-predators and those who would misuse your and your child’s sensitive information. GetNetWise can help. http://www.getnetwise.org/
4. Internet Safety for Teachers. Although designed for teachers, you as a parent can use this site which is designed to educate children about the dangers that lurk online. Here you will find free interactive lessons you can use at home as well as in your classroom. http://www.safekids.ne.gov/teachers.html
5. Internet Superheroes. Delivering smart, safe and responsible surfing messages to children, teens, schools and parents, online and offline. http://www.internetsuperheroes.com/
6. Kidsmart. Kidsmart is an award winning practical Internet safety program website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children’s Internet charity Childnet International. http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/
7. Chatdanger. A site all about the potential dangers on interactive services online like chat, IM, online games, e-mail and on mobiles. Click on the icons below to read TRUE STORIES and find out how to chat SAFELY... http://www.chatdanger.com/
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