Life is all about learning to make good choices. Home education ‘protects’ families a bit from the peer pressure of ‘everybody has one’ but technology is simply life today! In fact, some home school curriculum are totally technology based. Mastering technology and maximizing its potential is both a challenge and an opportunity in home education. In fact, the whole issue becomes an instructional tool in the lives of our children.
Technology brings tremendous opportunities for choice into our lives–and into the lives of our children. There are no perfect guidelines for what technologies are best. Becoming educated on the pros and cons, establishing boundaries and continually re-evaluating the impacts on your family values are necessities.
Today, recreational and social activities often center on technology. Technology easily isolates individuals into self-created worlds. Too much isolation is not healthy. I-pads, I-pods, MP3 players, WII stations, cell phones and social media sites are the world in which children are growing up. Balancing the time invested in electronic relationships with three-dimensional interaction is vital. The bogey-man of the past was television; it can be a friend these days if a family interacts around a particular show (instead of crawling into their own personal electronic worlds). Technology as a tool is great; technology as master is deadly.
The influence of technology is best remembered as “in” “flow.” Helping children to regulate what flows into their hearts and minds (until they learn to self-regulate) is important. While technology is only one source of ‘in-flow‘, it is a powerful source that can help instill the habit of self-monitoring in our children.
Here are some practical ways to monitor the technology. These are not meant as the ‘right’ approach, merely offered as seeds for your own technology plan:
- Keep the computer in the living room. This helps keep everyone accountable–and at least minimally connected.
- An ‘open-door’ policy on social media accounts is a controversial topic but something we practice. Passwords are set to automatic and neither emails nor pages are hidden from one another.
- Social media contacts are limited to individuals known in the ‘real world’ and personal information is not shared on web games or trading sites.
- Clear and open communication about internet contacts (individual or simply content) is a daily practice.
- MP3 use is restricted and personal conversation always allowed to over-ride ear-buds.
With intentional choices and regular monitoring, technology is a powerful friend in our world. Mastering technology is a skill area in which children need us to strategize and lead the way. One of the great beauties of home education is that all of life becomes our school. Embrace the challenge!