Anatomy of a Media Literacy Project: #4 Parent Surveys

Note: Part 4 of a series.
#1 Beginning
#2 Getting the Band Together
#3 A Busy Week or Two
#5 Editorial Choices

By Bill Shribman, Senior Executive Producer, WGBH

text_fr_logoWith your help I surveyed parents about their good and bad experiences with technology.
(You can still take the survey at:  http://iaclients.wgbh.org/tech_survey/ The survey is in support of a PBSKids.org media and technology project launching in the fall and featuring TV character Ruff Ruffman.)

Here are some of the replies, verbatim.

First we see the triumphs:

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My daughter used my cell phone to call my husband when I had an accident.

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My 7th grade son moved to a new school, he is socially awkward. He was chosen to be a leader in technology and to help other kids because of his skills. He felt very proud of himself and it helped him make friends.

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My 7-year old taught himself how to text. He invited his grandparents for dinner without telling me. THAT was surprising when they showed up for dinner!

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If they ask me a question and I don’t know, we can look it up online. They have confidence that almost anything can be answered online.

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My daughter gets so many creative ideas from Pinterest. She planned a whole party on her own with those ideas.

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When he was 8 he wanted something so he made a PowerPoint presentation about 10 slides with strong facts as to why we should purchase a game that cost $6.

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My son loves PBS games! With Ruff Ruff man he has learned about physics and scientific method. With dinosaur train, he has been inspired to study animals and nature. It also helps with hand eye coordination and reading!

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One of my kids made a castle in Minecraft. He took it really seriously. At his request we researched medieval European castles at the library, learned a lot, had fun, and his castle looked awesome.

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My daughter and her friends spent a Saturday afternoon listening to The Beatles and The Smiths after going through my husband’s record collection. They then got all if their clothes together and organized a record cover photo shoot and created some very cool images!

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My daughters have made stop motion movies, created itineraries for family trips, created group projects with Google Drive, and made presentations on Prezi.

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My kids love creating in Minecraft. It’s inspired my son to learn about programming and game creation. We subscribe to Dreambox to help my youngest with her math and she loves it. Computer games they play inspire stories they write or make RPG games for.

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My kids love watching their sport, acrobatic gymnastics, on YouTube, since it’s not really covered elsewhere.

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My middle son created and designed a website for himself when he was seven. He still uses it to communicate with extended family and as an outlet for his fiction and non-fiction writing. There are many free or subscription ways to set up stylish web sites or blogs. Make sure you read the terms of service, especially about kids’ privacy and to see who owns the content that you post!

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My son is a budding artist, and he loves to create pictures on the iPad. It has helped him build one kind of dexterity, which has been an issue for him.

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My oldest has been focused on transportation, roads, maps and city planning for as long as we can remember. I recently sat down and started playing the Super Nintendo version of SimCity on our Wii with him, and it has completely revolutionized his imaginative play. The cities he builds with blocks and wooden train tracks are much more thought out and complex.

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My son has created short games with programs he’s found online, he’s animated short scenes and wants to make a film, he’s created PowerPoint presentation for fun. To him these are just fun games. There is a measure of creativity that can be unleashed through technology that other generations never had access to before. These simple games he plays it will prepare him for a world where technology advances in great leaps.

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Tech has helped us introduce her to music of all kinds. She has fallen in love with classical performance and despite never taking a dancing class, has shown an interest in copying the movements of ballet dancers from YouTube clips of the Boston Ballet and other performance groups.

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My kid wanted a dog. She created a presentation in Google Docs. It was awesome

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Our very introverted child really comes out of his shell as a result of being very skilled at sandbox video games & being able to share that knowledge with his friends.

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And, for balance, here is the Uh-Oh end of the spectrum:

My daughter, in middle school, once texted something indicating another girl was bullying her when it wasn’t happening. Other girls then acted on this and it resulted in an irate father showing up at the house.

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My son started watching extremely inappropriate videos on YouTube (after hearing about them from other kids at school). Kaspersky (filtering software) disallows those searches and I track his usage now.

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My 7-year old son created a Facebook account for one of his friends and I found out when the mother called me! Ooops. Not only was she not happy because her daughter was not aloud to have an account but my son didn’t want to give them the password! This enabled us to talk about cyber identity.

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My daughter was on the receiving end of some comments after she had called out a class bully. She informed me she was printing some of the comments out and took them to the school counselor, some meetings at school took place between the kids involved. My daughter learned that she was empowered to take control to stop inappropriate comments and that adults are there to help.

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Apps and games have been downloaded without permission.

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As a teacher, I can honestly say, don’t think your kids or your kids friends aren’t presented with temptations online. Be proactive.

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My son at age 11 searched for inappropriate images on his iPod touch, and even though I had set up all the parental controls and limits that I knew how to do, Google Images still showed explicit pictures through the Safari app. He lost access to the device for 6 months, and now we check his history even more frequently.

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We have had an incident where my son (10 years) activated the open chat function on Team Fortress 2 on Steam and was engaged in a verbal altercation with an adult who was using foul language while using a headset. He lost his online privileges and understood he would have to earn those back which took him 6 months.

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The worst thing he’s done is download things without permission.

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My 12-year old, when he was 8, was prompted by older kids on the playground to use another browser than IE (so that the parents wouldn’t realize it) and then to go Google various *ahem* risque keywords. He did this when we weren’t looking and used Firefox to Google those words. He got quite an eyeful and also downloaded some malware. We discovered the surfing session due to the malware and confronted him about it. Lots of tears on his part and we now regularly check and monitor ALL installed browsers history and usage on our computers.

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Young teenager, going through angst over why a girl didn’t ‘like’ him. Decided to publicize his questions on FB, there was nothing mean or incorrect in what he posted. However, girl’s mother went to the principle of the school, principle had a chat with my nephew. FB is not private, and is not your bestie. Private angst should not be shared.

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My sons liked Thomas the Tank Engine toys at age three, and my wife had been showing pictures of the toys to them on eBay. One day she neglected to logout (they were 3). When she came back from preschool, we found they ordered $100 worth of the toys, from China.

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As a high school teacher, it seems like at least once a week there is a brawl in the lunchroom or in the halls that, if you trace the events back, is the direct result of a post on Twitter.

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My daughter sent inappropriate pictures to her boyfriend when she was a minor. We had to have a discussion about the five Federal laws she broke. It was a good lesson for her and for me.

Thanks for listening.

Bill

(To keep up with Media Literacy Now’s work to raise the level of public discussion on media literacy, please join our mailing list.)

2016-11-29T17:00:08+00:00July 9th, 2014|education, Stories|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. […] "this project is aimed squarely at kids – wherever they happen to be – rather than at teachers. I’ve decided to get to kids directly in part because by the time they reach the target age of this project (6-9 years old), many are online by themselves. A survey of my prospective audience (polling over 4,000 kids) showed that only 22% had their media use always monitored by their parents, with even less being asked about their online use by the parents. That’s nearly 80% running free. Over half the kids have no rules whatsoever about their media use. The plan is for this project to introduce topics that are nuanced enough to be able to spark discussion and debate. As a father of two teenage girls, I’m acutely aware of the pitfalls new technologies offer, but I also recognize the fantastic opportunities kids have if they are well guided."  […]

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