Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Parents knowledge of kids' social lives

Social computingImage by lorda via Flickr

The New York Times has this brief article on how parents don't really know how often their teens are checking into social networking sites. My first thought was, duh. Even tech savvy me who sits next to my kids while their on the computer probably doesn't know everything. And I don't think I should know *everything*. My parents didn't know everything. Sometimes, when they dropped me off at the mall, I went somewhere else. Sometimes, when I said I was at Jennifer's house, I was really somewhere else. Not behavior I'm proud of, but fairly typical. And it's why my kids are not allowed out of the house. :) Not really, but I certainly will be checking in with parents, etc. when my kids go out.

I went digging for the original research (can I say I hate it when people don't link to that stuff), and I couldn't find it exactly. The web site for Common Sense Media, the group responsible for collating such research, seems like an interesting place. They seem to have the right idea about approaching media, teaching kids to be critical of the media they consume, and helping parents learn what's going on in their kids lives. I've actually forwarded the link to some local educators. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about such sites. I feel like I work really hard to keep up with what my kids are doing, and obviously, my field keeps me abreast of the latest trends. But, I do know there are parents out there, who are just oblivious to a lot of the technology their kids are using. They either come down on the "no way am I letting my kid have a cell phone" side, or the "I have no idea what this stuff is, but surely it can't be bad." The hard part is that even with a lot of information, it's hard to figure out how to help your kids manage their social lives, whether they're mediated by technology or not. I suppose a site like this helps, but I still think parents need to use that information and be critical of it. New reports come out all the time, for example, about the effects of video games and other media on kids. I worry that parents sometimes rely on these kinds of places to tell them what to do. And no site, no matter how good, can sort out all the complexities of parenting in the digital age.
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