How to Raise Humans in a Digital World

This podcast will focus on digital citizenship, digital leadership and how to raise humans in a digital world. Diana Graber helps us understand how to help kids create a healthy relationship with technology by providing them with the skills they need to be safe, confident and productive online.

Special guest: Diana Graber.

Snapchat, Instagram, Fortnite, cyberbullying, sexting, and technology addiction are some of the digital concerns that keep today’s parents up at night. Some of the statistics being quoted are scary: Common Sense Media reported that 50 percent of teens feel “addicted” to their phones. The Pew Research Center reported just last year that 59 percent of U.S teens have been bullied or harassed online. Guard Child reported that 39 percent of teens have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages (sexting). Stanford University researchers tell us that a whopping 80 percent of students can’t differentiate between real and “fake” news. And the World Health Organization told us in 2017 that Technology is making children dangerously unhealthy. YIKES. These are not small-scale studies with questionable results. My next guest has been unpacking this research and working to understand how digital innovations have radically altered childhood and left us largely unprepared as parents for how to deal with the influx of technology and the fallout from these devices. She is also capturing the upside of these digital innovations that, yes, if used correctly, can enrich our children’s lives—and regardless, this IS the world we live in- we can not shut our eyes turn off all screens and say “that’s it!” without shutting out the digital world in which we must learn to survive and thrive. So what can we do?

Diana Graber, a digital literacy educator and advocate, was honored with the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s 2017 Media Literacy Teacher Award. She is the cofounder of Cyberwise, a leading online safety and digital literacy organization, and the founder and creator of Cyber Civics, the popular and innovative middle school digital citizenship and literacy program currently being taught in more than 40 US states, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Africa. Graber lives with her family in Southern California. Diana is also the author of Raising Humans in a Digital World, published in January of this year.

The podcast provides:

  • How we can be intentional about tech use- starting with our kids
  • Age bracket by age bracket- limits, behavior, appropriateness for tech use
  • How to raise kids to be digital leaders not just digital citizens
  • What we must tell our children about tech use and privacy
  • How to evaluate the good and the bad about technology with our kids
  • Scripts: How to Talk to Kids about Tech Use
  • How to discuss digital reputation with kids

Important Messages:

  • Adults- model healthy tech usage. Infants see adults using tech. Screens get in the way of connection between young kids and the adults in their lives. (1) Model balanced tech usage (2) Social-emotional-developmental skills are developed when they connect and look at faces. Screens get in the way. Limit them.
  • Elementary school: Digital “onramps” – get kids up to speed. Interest? Sit together and watch video on it. Increase interest on that topic. Write an email with a loved one. Positive use of tech.
  • Older elementary school: Talk to the other parents in your “village” and come to an agreement of what is healthy tech use at the children’s age. Phone? Texting? Group texting?
  • Hackers- splicing in suicide messaging into kids’ videos. Even when kids are 7, 8, 9 years old, we need to know what they are doing online.
  • Can’t rely perfectly on the sites we’ve come to rely on- even busy parents need to look first, if possible.
  • Talk about what it means to be a digital citizen- kind, respectful, do what’s right online.
  • Activity: Design their own app. How can you help people to be better digital citizens through your app? What will your app do to help people online? (i.e. send meals to homeless, if you fall on your bike-alerts people nearby). They are practicing being good digital citizens. They might even learn to code and build their app for real. Teach them then they can apply the learning to the online world.
  • Farm alarm. App to remind grandparents to take their medication—kids created. Then kids learn from what other kids are doing in digital world to better it—to become great digital citizen or digital leader.
  • Privacy. What should we think about? (1) Privacy is your currency. Your personal information is what you exchange with internet sites and apps for information. Guard it because it’s valuable. Understand what you are getting in exchange and think about if that exchange is fair. (2) Filter bubbles: Teach kids what these sites and apps do with the information and how they customize the information they give back to us based on the information they collect from us. The internet knows so much about us that it filters back to us what it thinks we will like. Dangerous. As a kid, you should be exposed to a wide array of things.
  • Activity: Read privacy policies of snapchat and Instagram. Start to see the truth about certain apps. (Is it worth the exchange of information? If not, they stop using the app.) They come to their own discovery—worth more than an adult telling them.
  • Sexting: Sending or receiving of a sexually explicit message. That means an unsuspecting kid who receives such a message can get in much trouble as the person who sent it. Child pornography laws are what they are. They can be put on a sexual offenders registry. In some states- fined, put in jail. Lost scholarships, kicked out of school, expelled or suspended. Kids need to be made aware of the consequences in their own state.
  • ADVICE- SEXTING: Delete immediately (phone company can retrieve if necessary).
  • Digital De-TECH-tives: What’s good/what’s bad? Disconnecting, connecting.
    • Bow/Arrow: Go together to hunt before bow/arrow. With bow/arrow, hunter can go out alone.
    • TV: Before TV- conversation. TV, now not talking. But- can talk about program after. Now- everyone has own ipad- so alone.
    • Internet- connects with people, but delivers sexting, disconnects, cyberbullying.
    • Smart phone: Photos, share with others- but looking at smart phone and not talking to each other.
  • Activity: Ask grandparent/parent what life was like before the internet. Interview.
  • Activities- not judgmental- let kids figure out the plus and minuses for themselves.
  • Checklist: Discuss- ask- Do they know how to manage reputation? Can they maintain their privacy? Can they have safe relationships? Do they know how to be careful of who they friend/follow? Do they know how to keep balance- manage screen time? (Go through checklist) Basic understanding of all these things. Want to pre-empt the mistakes and not have to clean them up after.
  • Digital reputation: Story- 10 bright students who got into Harvard got their acceptances revoked because they did something that Harvard viewed as offensive/inappropriate. Created a reputation in real life that started online. These kids thought they were on a private facebook group—but nothing online is private. Memes shared.
  • Activity: Do something with them- understanding on own. People you know- google them. What does the internet say about them? (Do it ahead of time so you know what they’ll see). Reputation before you even know them. Child understands the impact of digital reputation before embarking on their digital life.
  • We want kids to understand the impact of their digital reputation without actually saying; “post online and it will stay online forever.” In one ear and out the other. Instead, do an online activity where they google friends and family.
  • Activity: Pretend you are a college counselor and you are going to award a spot to one student. Gather the info (Harvard story)- digital reputation of 2 different people. Who did you pick and why? Kids learn that the digital reputation is not just formed by what the person puts online but what other people put online and then tag them in. Careful who they are friends with online.
  • Reality: Young adults who are being interviewed for jobs are now being asked to take out their IG and Snapchat accounts and show them to prospective employers so they can see what’s there. Nothing inappropriate.
  • Talk early, talk often. What are your kids doing online? Don’t do it in a judgmental way but a curious way. “Exciting, what’s on there?”
  • Educate. Kids will be on these devices a lot. They need to learn how to use them productively, confidently and safely.
  • If adults don’t feel confident online themselves- it’s not about t3echnology, it’s about neurology. Share your wisdom- we are more knowledgeable than our kids about life. Share your experience.

Notable Quotables:

  • “Digital literacy starts the day a child is born. Even infants are seeing the adults around them grabbing their phones and looking at their screens. They learn that this is what you do if you’re an adult in the real world. Adults need to model balanced tech usage.”
  • “When we teach children how to use technology in intentional, positive ways when they are little, the skills will last a lifetime.”
  • “We have to create a bridge. We have to take kids slowly down the road, help them build qualities of understanding and then teach them how to apply that learning to the actual online world.”
  • “Privacy is your currency. Your personal information is what you exchange with internet sites and apps for information. Guard it because it’s valuable. Understand what you are getting in exchange and think about if that exchange is fair.”
  • “I like to teach kids about filter bubbles and how the internet filters back to us what it thinks we will like based on the information they collect from us. Kids are natural skeptics. And when they understand and learn about this, they don’t like it. They will go to mechanisms to make sure their personal information is not taken so freely.”
  • “It’s amazing what power education and provide. Kids can start to be the guardians of their own personal information and protecting their own privacy.”
  • “Sexting: It never ceases to amaze me how little kids know about the consequences of getting caught.”
  • “Nothing online is private. Information always gets out.”
  • “Talk early, talk often. What are your kids doing online? Be aware of what they are doing, who they’re friends with and what information they are exchanging.”
  • “Educate: It’s so important that kids are getting lessons in digital literacy. It breaks my heart when schools don’t make time for this because kids will spend so much time in their future on devices, They must be taught how to use them productively, confidently and safely.”
  • “It’s not about technology, it’s about neurology. Kids don’t need our help pushing the buttons. They need our wisdom—they need the wisdom that we’ve gleaned by being on this planet longer than they have. Every parent can provide wisdom to their children.”


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