Parenting in the digital age

January 24th, 2014


Come gather ‘round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you

Is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’.

The Essential Bob Dylan is playing in my office. In fact, I’m playing it off my iPad and listening to it via my minijambox, which is of course connected wirelessly via Bluetooth. BTW (that’s “by the way” for the non-texters out there) you just read through four hyperlinks, each will take you to a webpage affiliated with the respective key word, and either nearer to or further from the end of this post.

If you are anything like me (parent and life-long learner that graduated high school in the 80s, that’s the 1980s for any 20 year-olds reading this) then you share my excitement and my trepidation of adjusting to a hyperconnected world. As an individual, I have a very high-risk tolerance when it comes to technology. As an educator, I maintain that sense of exploration because I have seen the rewards that technology has to offer – and I’ve seen educational institutions emerge stronger from many tech blunders. As a parent, I realize that my boys are exposed to resources, tools, games, and information that I didn’t know about until I was in college or beyond. This post is for that last role, the parent.

The Center on Media and Human Development out of Northwestern University published a report in June of 2013 titled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology. There’s a nice summary of the findings on Mind/Shift by Alexis Lauricella. Yep, I read both, though admittedly I started with the summary. Spoiler alert for those who wish to read the report and/or the summary themselves… parenting is different today and with each new generation parents have to adapt to the environment their children are living in. This resonates strongly with the parent in me – I am the same guy that proclaimed, “My child will not have any screen time until he’s three.” Don’t get me wrong, Max goes days without using our tv, iPad, Netflix, and iPhone. But there are days when he and his one-year old brother borrow the iPhone to take pics and watch family videos. In fact, Max figured out how to take a picture without unlocking my iPhone long before I realized that was possible!

As I deal with parenting in a world that is very different from the one I grew up in, the other voices in my head offer the following tips to my parenting self:

1. Be brave.

2. Learn from and with your kids.

3. Take appropriate chances.

4. Make it fun, don’t just wait to have fun.

5. Downloading an app or purchasing a device is not a life-sentence. If its not working for you, move on.

6. Its okay to be afraid, just don’t let the fear stunt your growth.

7. Its not about you, its about your kid.

Below are a few tech resources for parents that I’ve found to be extremely helpful. If you’ve got a favorite resource that’s not on this list, please send it my way.


Common Sense Media – Offers a wealth of information, tools, and resources for families and schools. They are the primary resource for teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship at HIS. Start with their Family Tip Sheets and their making sense blog for parenting, media and everything in between.

Edutopia: Their mission is to identify and share evidence-based strategies that improve education. Their Media and Digital Literacy: Resources for Parents page is chock-full of great resources for parenting in the digital age.

PBS offers a variety of videos and resources through their Digital Workshops: Online Resources for Parents and Educators.



Chris Bezsylko, Middle School Principal

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