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February 21, 2013
Nancy is the Project Manager at the Family Online Safety Institute.
While we don’t like to toot our own horn, all of us at A Platform for Good were thrilled by a recent report that gave additional evidence to support the theory behind our Teach Parents Tech video series.
Earlier this month, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre in Australia released a report finding substantial benefits when parents and kids engage in intergenerational conversations about technology use.
The report focuses on a pilot project conducted by researchers at the University of Western Sydney (with support from Google Australia) that gave parents a close-up view of how and why young people use technology, and assessed the impact teens’ use has on their parents’ digital skills development. As part of this program, researchers asked young people to design and deliver online safety workshops for parents.
The findings? First, young people are very knowledgeable about the online risks and are adept at using tools and settings to minimize safety, security and privacy risks. Second, parents continue to have a strong influence when it comes to being smart, safe, respectful and resilient online.
With apologies to Spiderman, the report recognizes that, with this power comes the great responsibility to exercise it wisely. It is important for parents to have an “open and ongoing conversation with young people about their online activities in ways that reiterate their family’s values. These conversations are one backdrop against which young people make decisions online,” said Dr AmandaThird, CRC’s Research Program Leader.
Need help starting your conversation? Take at look at our safety cards and our family safety contract – they provide a great way to frame a conversation with your teens and tailor it to reflect your own family rules.
One barrier to having these conversations may be a parent’s feeling that they are less knowledgeable than their kids about their smart phone, laptop or tablet. This study recognized that it is important to “build adults’ familiarity with the platforms young people use, and their technical skills and understanding of the attractions of using technology.” By building their confidence and competence with the technology, parents will feel more empowered to guide online safety discussions at home.
Most exciting to us at PfG, was the study’s recognition that young people are well suited to assisting parents with their technical competency. “Among other things, when parents sit in front of a computer with a young person, they learn to approach technology with the same spirit of learning by discovery that young people do,” said Dr. Third.
Armed with this research, I encourage you to take a fresh look at the Teach Parents Tech videos. These 10 videos are narrated by teens as a way to help parents understand what teens are doing online and improve parents’ technical skills. The videos cover a wide range of topics from mobile apps and social media to privacy and digital reputation. Watch these videos and, at the end, you’ll have the option to earn a badge by sharing your new found knowledge.
Teens, want to help your parents or another adult learn more about using their cell phone, social media or their laptop? This study gives ample support for the adage that there is nothing better than the gift of your time. Need help? We have downloadable coupons for you to give them as a way to start the conversation.
These conversations between parents and teens are sure to help us all connect, share and do good!
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