Device Use Readiness Skills #1 and #2
Before we put a new driver behind the wheel, they must pass a written test designed to determine if they know the rules of the road. After at least six months of supervised training in the car, they are also required to take a driver's test. We wouldn't allow our children to drive alone if they proved to be too impulsive or irresponsible with a $25,000 car.
Just like the tests for readiness for driving a car, before we hand our children a device, we need to be sure they can pass a Device Use Readiness Test. Surely, they know how to use the devices. Developers have made them so easy to use a two year old can navigate a device without parental assistance. But being able to use them and being ready to use them are two different things.
The following are just two of the readiness skills or traits users must have to be prepared for safe use of their devices:
Emotional Readiness: Are they emotionally mature enough to handle what they might see once they enter the internet jungle? In the late 1990's, I was very excited to offer my third graders another resource to use for research of their endangered animals. It wasn't long before we were faced with our first shocking reality about the internet; the internet was not safe for an eight year old. The student studying the snow leopard expected to see a beautiful creature and receive up-to-date information. What he happened upon was a graphic porn site. We may have filters on our devices, but unethical people have managed to by-pass them. We can't guarantee children will not happen upon shocking material we do not want them to see. An adult can handle the shock, but children can't. The only safe thing to do, is be our children's filters in searches, unless they are mature enough to handle unexpected material.
Are they emotionally ready to limit their use of devices. My friend shared his experience when he does on-line researching. “Before I get a chance to begin my search, I am hit with compelling headlines. I know I shouldn’t click on them, but the pull at times is too much, and I find myself going down the rabbit hole of headlines that have catchy phrases. I’m being pulled into articles I really don’t have any interest in. Even people who know better can be easily sucked in, because they are so clever at how the distractions are presented. If an adult that knows better still can’t resist the catchy headlines, how can a naive child be emotionally mature enough to resist this outside influence.
Effective Face-to-Face Communication: Do they know how to have meaningful discussions face-to-face with peers and adults? According to Sherry Turkle in her book Reclaiming Conversation, she states, "Face to face conversation leads to greater self-esteem and an improved ability to deal with others. Again conversations cures” (Turkle .p. 25). Knowing how to have such conversations requires children know how to listen and respond appropriately. The dinner table is the best place to learn this type of conversation. They need to see respectful dialog in which family and friends make eye contact and give each other time to finish a statement before responding. The dining table is a great place to learn to share differing opinions and have respectful discourse modeled. Internet conversations can shake anyone's world, because they make it easier to be unkind and disrespectful. It's imperative that our children have the elements of respectful dialog modeled before they encounter the unhealthy form of communication experienced on the internet.
Check in tomorrow for two more skills or traits children need to have before they receive a device.