our digital kids: teaching, supporting, and parenting 21st century learners

our digital kids It’s no secret that we’re raising children in a totally different world than the one we knew as kids.

Gone are the days of letting kids run as free birds ‘round the hood, playing with this friend and that, instructing them only to come home once the streetlights turned on.

Gone are the days of kids throwing a quarter in the payphone somewhere—anywhere–to call for a ride home from the mall.

Gone are the days of sending kids across the street to play at the park for a few hours while parents worked or cleaned or cared for siblings.

Though many parents may scoff at the idea of letting a child run free at in the neighborhood, many are allowing their kids to do just that—in the wilds of social media.  But because their kids are home, safe and sound under their own roof, maybe even tucked into their little beds, cozy and calm, this type of free play is often viewed quite differently.

Believe me—I’m not judging. I’m waaaay beyond judging other parents and firmly believe that we’re all just doing the very best we can, where we are, with what we have.

It makes me nervous, so I’m changing my parenting focus in order to better meet the needs of my three digital kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Digital Kids–Teaching, Supporting, and Parenting 21st Century Learners: Just last week I read a piece in the Washington Post– Helping your kids navigate the stormy seas of social media, by Mari-Jane Williams– and it confirmed for me that I should share what we’re doing over here.

Social networking today is really just a natural part of the way kids and teens are growing up, according Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media.

owen computer


But I’m in the thick of it—social media that is—and I have a pretty firm understanding of how many of the tools are used, both as creative outlets and as tools for promotion and campaign-creation.  And I feel like I want to introduce my kids to these tools because I can–and because I’ve taught them so many things already.

So in this series, I’m going to share how I’m slowly introducing my kids to cool tools of social media.  Maybe not signing them up for it—but showing them what’s out there so that when their friends talk a big game, my kids have a clue.

And along the way, I’ll share how I’m teaching my kids to use the devices we have and the fabulous apps and programs on ‘em.


computer time

Honestly? I’m not ready to invite Maddy, Owen, and Cora to join in any serious social networking because I don’t feel up to it. 


It takes time. And effort. And a lot, a lot, a lot of energy.

But when I do, I’ll share it here. And hopefully that ‘learning in the every day’ will be just what other parents need to move more confidently into this next chapter with their kids–not behind them, but alongside them.  Or very slightly ahead of them. 

And? My kids don’t even meet minimum age requirements according to the Terms of Service for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.  It’s 13–at least for Instagram and Facebook.

And I really feel like if I want my kids to follow rules when it comes to social media, then I have to as well.

So I’ll start by sharing how my digital kids have come to know some social media and technology basics:

  • digital kids teachmama.com buttonTexting
  • Facebook
  • blogs
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Power Point
  • Pixie
  • Microsoft Word

And I’ll share my point of view as an educator, parent, and social media savvy blogger and writer.  And I’ll take any ideas, support, or advice from my readers as I go. 

Anything specific YOU want to learn?  Let me know.

Hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Next up: Texting as a Learning Tool – Texting without really texting




  1. says

    This is such a great topic – I do think the computer and technology has the power to be used for good – my 6 and 3 year old both learned to read on the computer- and my 6 year old now reads at a 5th grade reading level…SO…whenever people tell me ALL screen time is bad, I kinda laugh at that. It is definitely soemthing we monitor very closely, though- for example – those aweome YouTube videos that I let my kids watch (so many great learning videos)- are often followed by ones that AREN’T appropriate. It is tough to navigate, and I know it will just get more complicated. Thanks fo the post!



  2. says

    It is a very interesting topic, especially for me – since I review educational apps for mobile devices. :-) I agree with Erika – kids are growing up in this new world, we can’t expect them learn in the same way as we did, yet we can’t let them go without guidance. We have to learn together with the kids as new things come out – who knows what new social media will be popular in two years!
    Erika, if you use iPAD, you can set YouTube, movies, and music, etc to the rated level you want, such as G, PG, or PG13. Simply go to Settings – General – Restrictions – Allowed Content.

  3. says

    Love this topic! My kids are online a little too much! Can you please cover digital safety with suggested rules for kids. Not just predators but their social media footprint. We had a run in with Zorpia, for example that affected my husband’s and my entire email lists. I’m pretty sure Zorpia is a pfishing scam but how to recognize one would be great.

    • says

      Mia! I’m on it. My list of topics to cover has grown exponentially in the last 24 hours, and I”m both flattered, excited, and anxious to cover it all. Great topics have been suggested to me–and I am thankful. My goal is to cover Digital Kids each Wednesday. . . so give me a few weeks. We haven’t hit social networking at ALL with my crew, and I was thinking about making it our summertime adventure. At least for Maddy (who is 9. .. ). I will definitely be in touch with you for some hands-on experience and advice before we go there.

      I am SO sorry this happened to you–I’ve heard more horror stories than not, which is why I’m uber-hesitant to take the plunge.

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