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​​​​Kids & TechnologyIssue1234

The Benefits of ​Technology for Tweens and Teens

In previous emails, we have warned about the potential dangers modern electronic media and technology pose to children. From simple time-wasting to cyberbullying and online stalking, new technologies can mean new risks to tweens ​and teens.

That being said, there are a number of great benefits these gadgets offer. On the flip side of the security issue, allowing your kids to have a mobile phone can actually increase their safety because it gives them a way to contact you or the police if they ever get into trouble. And because they carry the phone with them at all times, it is possible to track their movements or pinpoint their location using certain phone settings or apps. (Of course, your kids would agree to this as part of the technology/media rules and expectations you developed after our previous email.)

Another great benefit of Internet-capable devices is that they provide access to vast stores of online information for research and learning purposes. Instead of having to go to a library and wade through stacks of books, kids can search a vast pool of facts and information when writing term papers, completing science projects or working on just about any other kind of assignment that requires research. (Of course, they also need to learn the difference between legitimate scholarly material and the bogus content sometimes created by anonymous bloggers, and that Wikipedia isn’t the be-all and end-all of online research.)

Video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu also offer access to thousands of artistic and educational films and television series that were once available only at specialty video stores, if they were available at all. This provides great opportunities for your kids to broaden their cultural horizons without leaving your living room. As always, your parental technology controls must be in place so your kids are not viewing inappropriate content.

In the end, new technology – just like old technology – is a tool that can be used for good or for bad. It is up to you to teach your kids how to use technology in a positive way and to make good decisions in their online, virtual world activities. And since kids and technology are going to be inseparable for the foreseeable future, helping your kids get the best out of it while protecting them from the worst will be your ongoing ​responsibility.

Teaching Activity

Using Technology to Learn

Have your kids pick a topic, research it online and give you an oral report. As they do their research, have them compile a list of the sources they used; check the sources later to make sure they are legitimate. The topic can be anything you deem to be appropriate. The key here is to give your kids the freedom to pick a subject they think will be fun or interesting to learn more about, whether it’s the history of the flush toilet or Taylor Swift’s red carpet looks.

Social Skills

Concentrating on a Subject or Task

As with all the social skills we teach in these email series, this particular skill is one that will serve a child long after adolescence. Concentrating on a Subject or Task is a skill that goes hand-in-hand with our teaching activity of researching and delivering a report, and with many school assignments your teens and tweens will receive from their teachers. So before you have your kids begin their research, have them learn and practice the following steps:

  • Promptly begin work on the task.
  • Focus your attention directly on the subject.
  • If your attention wanders, instruct yourself to concentrate on the task.
  • Ignore distractions or interruptions by others.
  • Remain on task until the work is completed.

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