Finstagrams are “private” Instagrams meant only for your closest friends. Many kids just refer to them as their private Instagram account. Here’s the definition from the Urban Dictionary:...Read More
TECH TALK TUESDAYS (TTT)
“Through making Screenagers, I learned how important it is to have short calm talks with our kids about the way tech affects our lives. I came up with Tech Talk Tuesdays to make sure I did this on a regular basis and to share ideas with others. Each week on this page we will share ideas to help spark conversations to bring up with your family.
PLEASE JOIN US BY PLEDGING TO DO ONE TECH TALK TUESDAY.
Our kids are very accustomed to having several screens out at once. I notice when my family watches a movie at home that they have their phones out and go will go back and forth between screens.
Let's talk about the multi-screen phenomenon for Tech Talk Tuesday.
Do you know what Streaks are? Snapchat has something they call Snapstreaks that count the consecutive days you send a Snap to the same person. My daughter has some "streaks" that are more than 200 days long. To keep a "streak" going both people must send a Snap back-and-forth within 24 hours.Read More
A recent article in the Washington Post about sexting and a podcast called Note to Self got me thinking about the subject. “Sexting” is the exchange of sexually explicit images between minors (17 years or younger) via tech, usually cells phones. A study from 2012 found that roughly 20% of U.S. adolescents between 13 and 19 reported having sent, or posted, a nude or semi-nude photo of themselves, and 28% said they received a sext message intended for someone else.
I wonder if “sexting” is too strong a word for a lot of what is actually going on these days. When we use the word “sexting” to describe certain images I worry that we get into a blaming and shaming mindset that can prevent constructive conversations with our children. Some images that we may label as “sexting” could be more appropriately referred to as simply “physically revealing.”
I want to be clear that I’m not condoning that teens send inappropriate, revealing photos to each other. But, we have to figure out a way to talk with our kids about what they are seeing and doing, and what they think it makes sense. We can hear them out, give them some data, and our views—but let’s do it from a realistic place, not a scary place.
Here are some questions for Tech Talk Tuesday to get a conversation with your kids started about sexting:
- How do you define sexting?
- When you post a picture of yourself in a bathing suit, running bra or shirtless, why are you doing this? Is it because you think you look great and want to let everyone know? Is it because that’s just what everyone is doing?
- How do you decide what to post versus text?
- Have you ever received a physically revealing picture that made you feel uncomfortable?
- Have you ever sent a physically revealing picture of yourself to someone, or posted one to social media, and then regretted it?
My daughter is in 9th grade in a junior high, and my son in the high school, and it seems every year they, and I, are not entirely clear on the rules at school around cellphones. Tessa tells me that one teacher has a zero tolerance policy. On the first day he told them thatif he catches them with a phone, he will put it on his desk—In this first week, he has not confiscated one during her class. Another “more chill” (in Tessa’s words) teacher says if you finish your work you can be on your phone. He added that there are “appropriate times to be on your phone and non-appropriate times.” I’m eager to have a Tech Talk Tuesday tonight with my kids about how this is all working...the different rules, their desire to check their phones versus their need to pay attention, etc.
When I was filming Screenagers, and now from the many teachers who have seen the movie, I hear how frustrating the constant distraction of cell phones are in the classroom.
For Tech Talk Tuesday this week, let's talk about cellphones in the classroom.
- What are the rules for cellphones in the classrooms at your school?
- Do you like the rules around cellphone use?
- If they don't allow cellphones, do you sometimes use them anyway?
- What do you use your phone for at school?
- Have you ever left your phone at home for the day?
- How often do you check social media in class? How often do you play a game on your phone in class?
- Do you go on your phone at lunch? Alone? With friends?
Screen time and homework can be a real problem. Our children often need screens to do their homework and then are automatically vulnerable to distraction when they need concentration the most. Famous research out of Stanford showed that when people multitask they feel as if they are doing better and better at the different tasks but actually they are doing worse and worse on all of them.
I am starting to have talks now with my kids about how are they going to manage homework—both being organized around it and staying focused. Staying focused is so important because their brains are developing these critical functions during these teen years. When I interviewed Dimitri Christakis, MD at Seattle Children’s Hospital, for Screenagers, he said that successfully building executive function skills are measured not just by staying on tasks we find interesting, but by actually learning how to stay on tasks that we find challenging or tedious.
For this week's Tech Talk Tuesday I have some conversation starters about how we can work with our kids to find ways to help them get organized and manage homework.
- How often do you think you need a break when you are working on homework? Every 20 minutes, 30 minutes?
- How much of your homework has to be done on a computer? Parents can answer the same question for their own work.
- Where would you like your kids to be while doing their homework and where would they like to be?
- During homework, what do you use your phone for? Calculator? Collaborating with friends? Checking assignments online?
- Are there advantages of having a day planner that is not an app, or online? (OK, I am biased here, in my family I think having a paper planner is good to prevent Tessa from saying that she needs her phone to check her assignments. This year she is going to have a notebook planner) Parents should share how they keep track of their work.
When I was young I saw the Truffaut film, Small Change, that made me want to be French. I started working at various jobs at 12 and by 16, I was able to pay my way to France for a summer to travel alone. Ok, why am I telling you this? Well, I remember trying to stay connected with people back home in Berkeley and spending a lot of time picking out postcards to send. I remember hoping the postcards would get home before I did—geez, did postcards to take forever back then, and even now they still take so long. I thought this would be a great conversation to have for Tech Talk Tuesday this week.Read More
As summer break nears its final days and I see the fall frenzy of school-and-everything-else schedules coming my way, I am preparing for the transition. As I envision the back-to-school scene for our family, I know we have a lot of adjustments to make to get ourselves into “fall mode”. Amidst considerations around supplies, extracurriculars, transportation, and meals
When we screened Screenagers to employees at Pixar, the organizer Guido Quaroni, V.P. of Software R&D at Pixar (and also the voice Guido in Cars) and I talked about their recruitment efforts. He told me that the hardest people to find for Pixar were good story writers, animators, designers... not programmers. The creatives, however, he said ... "Ahhh, man, that is hard."Read More
Today we are talking about exploring science through technology. There are many ways to spark a conversation with your kids about science including watching YouTube videos together. Tessa and I like watching “How It's Made" videos. We just watched one on how natural rubber is made and the images are incredible. And I just posted this interesting Ted Talk about using virtual reality to bring science to life in the classroom.Read More
A recent survey found that 76 percent of travelers post their vacation photos to social networks. People have different feelings about this--for example, some people love to see people on vacation and others may feel envious. One type of photo that is popping up a lot on your teens' Instagram and Snapchats are pictures of friends in their bathing suits. Yesterday I asked my daughter Tessa and her friend Cedar why they think girls like to post pictures of themselves in bathing suits and they both answered very quickly:Read More
If you and your family don't want to unplug for your vacation, how about just turning off notifications instead? According to a Gallup Poll, 70% of teens check their phoneseveral times an hour. We know that is true for many adults too. Constant notifications from social sites, texts and more play a big part in this compulsion.Read More
Pokémon GO is has taken the country by storm, and it's not just kids, adults are playing too.
This summer there are many opportunities for kids to be plugged in, but also many are getting the unique experience of unplugging because they are going to away to camps or in day camps that don't allow devices. There was a study done out of UCLA that shows that children who spend even 5 days without their devices, in tech-free camps, have restoration of the capacity for empathy.Read More
It’s morning. You are snuggled under the covers, your eyes open, your brain registers that it’s a new day. Is your first interaction with the world an in-person one -- “Good morning, honey” – or a screen one – a text, FB post, or news and traffic update — quick, before anyone in the house says ‘hello’? How about for your kids?Read More
f your child’s life has included a Minecraft phase, you know what I’m talking about. There’s the beginner level of the game that you play, walking from place to place collecting resources for survival, and there are the deeper levels, that can include creating entire neighborhoods to programming your own action sequences and building tools that you make available to other players.Read More
Check your device during conversations with your family? 77% of parents say their teens do and 41% of teens say their parents do. Listen to music while doing homework? Browse online and text friends while watching tv? Check and respond on multiple screens and devices at once?Read More
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine just released recommendations for the number of hours a night that kids and teens need to sleep to function at their best. The Panel also found a link between sleeping fewer than recommended and physical disorders like hypertension, obesity, and diabetes as well as increased psychological problems like depression and suicidal thoughts. For Tech Talk Tuesday (TTT) this week, here are a few questions to help you start a conversation with your family around sleep and screens.
Summer break is upon us and even though our kids won’t be on campus with their friends every day, they can keep the social scene alive on their favorite social media sites. In a CNN Report about the network’s study on social media and