Are you acting like a digital steward or a fool?

Want to be a good digital steward? Teach yourself and your children digital literacy and manners.

That’s my reaction to a new Retrevo study on the lifestyle habits of digitally connected parents that Jennifer Jacobson of Retrevo kindly shared with me.

The report says a lot about how moms and dads try (emphasis on try) to balance their roles as parents with their use of digital. To wit:

  • Nearly 20 percent of parents who own iPhones say they’ve given up activities they enjoy in order to spend time on Facebook and Twitter (compared to 11 percent of all parents).
  • Nearly half of parents say they’ve used Facebook to learn about their kids’ friends.

I think the report is relevant to anyone who understands the meaning of being a steward for future generations, even if you are not a parent. Here’s how you can be a digital steward:

1. Teach children digital literacy

I agree that it’s important to understand how kids are using social to interact with each other (the digital bullying phenomenon alone is reason enough).

In addition, digital stewards (anyone who interacts with children – both parents and nonparents alike) have an obligation help children embrace the entire digital world – ranging from the devices required to communicate in society to the social media sites that we use to connect with each other.

I’m not suggesting you unleash mobile phones on children or allow them to roam free on social media sites without any supervision. But think of mobile phones, iPads, and social media platforms the same way you would your landline phone (if you still use one). At the right time, you teach your child how to use the phone as a communications tool. Digital is no different.

The sooner you prepare your child for the digital world, the better. To put your head in the sand is to deny your child an essential skill: digital literacy.

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