By Erin McNeill
Elementary school teachers I talked with last week at the University of Rhode Island’s Summer Institute on Digital Literacy discussed the problems of teaching digital literacy when there is a widening digital divide between the low-income schools and the higher resource schools. But they also noted that parents are getting left behind in today’s high-tech world.
Children of the less-affluent parents are not online, the teachers said, and so those parents have less understanding of the urgent issues. The affluent parents do see the issues that are coming up with their kids being online at younger and younger ages, are overwhelmed by the digital influx in their families’ lives, and are mostly just throwing up their hands in frustration.
The discussion reminded me of a request a parent had posted on a local chat board. This mom was feeling overwhelmed by all the technology in her home and life, and was seeking someone to help her.
“My son has an ipod, I have an iphone – we need some help with these items (apple accounts, safety features, icloud, downloads, backups, pictures, etc). We have an x-box that doesn’t hold memory or save the kids games when they play them, I have an old lap top for the kids that they complain lags and has a million pop-ups on it and I have a work laptop that I’d like to get files off of…”
A friend forwarded this job posting to me. She thought it was an opportunity for one of my teenage boys – being “digital natives” I suppose – to make a little spending cash with their tech skills. I told her that although they know how to play games and use apps, they have no idea how everything works and connects, and that they too desperately need digital literacy!
It is certainly hard to keep up today, but there are resources for parents to teach themselves and their kids. Our friends at Cyberwise have a strong collection of digital literacy and digital citizenship educational opportunities they call “technology learning hubs.”