Digital families

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Information about Digital families

Published on March 1, 2014

Author: maryhess1



This is a presentation given to a Sunday morning gathering of parents in an upper Midwestern church. It was aimed at helping them to navigate the challenge of digital cultures with their children.

Digital tools, family challenges Normandale Lutheran Church 2 March 2014

adaptive challenge messy, no clear answer or technique will suffice, changing contexts, learning together

we learn as we go ... with our congregations with families with children with each other

it helps to have an analogy by which to think about the emerging challenges

to understand media you need to understand practice

media practice is about communication and relationships

analogy with food a way to think about this

food • we all require it to survive • we live in a culture that gives us lots of unhealthy choices • preparing and eating food at home and with creativity is often a lost art • no clear social agreement on what’s good or bad

media • we require communication to survive • we live in a culture with lots of unhealthy communication practices • paying creative attention to communication (think “thank you notes”) is often a lost art • no clear social agreement on what’s good and bad

so what are we to do?

practices • help people develop healthy practices around media • encourage a diverse media “diet” • encourage the creation of media • provide ways to share more communally in consuming preproduced media • highlight our unique media of spiritual and religious practice

some examples — for pondering, not for prescriptive use!

for young children • limit commercially produced media consumption • for the times you do engage media, put good pieces in front of them (Common Good radio, Children’s literature, etc.) • institute table prayers and practices (candles, etc.) • invite a biblical imagination into daily practice (Bible Stories for the 40 days)

for school age kids • invite them to create media (MyPopStudio, animoto, etc.) • watch media together • have clear family practices around media use • diversify your media diet • choose media with deep theological themes to engage together • choose Wii or Kinect over more solitary or less physical options

for teens • play and learn online together • set clear guidelines for family media use • provide opportunities to create in media • practice open and engaged communication in any medium • engage in service together • participate with them in social media

for adults • choose the Net over cable tv • develop a thoughtful news diet • learn with young people • create in media

what about dangers?

issues to ponder • bullying • privacy issues • healthy approaches to media

bullying • research shows that there is not more bullying than previously (that is, digital tools haven’t vastly increased bullying), but it can spread more rapidly and it is certainly more visible to us (which can be a good thing, in terms of prevention!) • best way to engage bullying is to build a community which looks out for each other, knows how to prevent and stop it • safety tips for twitter, youtube,facebook,instagram • resources: CommonSenseMedia, insafe (EU), beatbullying, danah boyd, Enhancing Child Safety

privacy issues • for your own information (white papers, background legislative information, etc.): Electronic Frontier Foundation, Berkman Center at Harvard, Pew Internet Research Project • for your teens: Protect My Rep, youth free speech • for working with young children: Powerful Voices for Kids Online

books • NetSmart: How to Thrive Online, by Howard Rheingold • The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age, by Lynn Schofield Clark • It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by danah boyd

remember • practices by which we engage media matter even more than specific media content • emerging digital technologies make engaging media an adaptive challenge • we need to support people with media practices in ways that are similar to how we support healthy food practices • engage your families with faith practices that create in media

questions & answers

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