Friday, August 24, 2007

Logged On and Tuned Out

Our kids today are growing up with a completely different technology than we are. My step-dad worked out of our home, and his home office included a computer with a dot matrix printer that I could use for my high school reports. Not everyone had this cutting-edge technology. Fast forward twenty years, and my son, at three, can already switch from game to game on by himself, and knows which icon on the desktop starts in the internet. Amanda, at almost nine, can check her email, find her game sites, and is trying to figure out how to use google. Last week she asked me when I thought she would get her first cell phone. I didn't get mine until I was about 32 (and although I love having it, I'm still in the camp that sees it as more of a convenience item than an absolute necessity). In spite of this I realize that by the time she's ten, I'll probably have passed down my ipod to her, and that she is sure to have a cell phone before she enters high school.

Our teens, and tweens for that matter, are logged on. We as parents are often tuned out. We either don't understand the technology or don't fully realize the importance of it in our teens' lives. Logged On and Tuned Out by Vicki Courtney explains how and why teens use today's technology, as well as ways that we can help them use it appropriately, how we can monitor them, and safety precautions that they must understand and agree to as a condition of use. Ms. Courtney devotes chapters to
  • Instant Messaging
  • Cell Phones
  • Social Networking Sites (myspace et al)
  • Pictures and Videos.
Each chapter explains what the technology is in a way that clarifies it for the most clueless parent and still provides needed cultural context for those of us who might feel pretty savvy. I really appreciated Courtney's perspective on the use of monitoring software. It's controversial, but she recommends it, and explains how and why she uses it to be able to make sure that her children (and their friends) are adhering to her guidelines and conducting themselves online in a way that is God-honoring.

One theme throughout the book is that things are different for kids today because we are in the digital age. With the ability to easily take and publicly share photos and videos, advising our kids about the need to be careful what they say, and even what they do, is more important than ever. That is one of the problems with the social networking sites, such as myspace. Ms. Courtney walks the reader through her criteria for determining when her children were mature enough to maintain these sites and even for using IM.

This is a great resource for parents of kids aged ten and up. Certainly the parent of every teen should be well-versed in all of these areas. The social networking chapter was eye-opening to me. As savvy as I am (I mean, I have a blog, don't I?), I have had negatively judged myspace out of ignorance. She calls these sites the "virtual malt shop" of this generation. This is the way that kids connect. They don't have to hang out at the malt shop. Their community exists 24-7 on the world wide web. It gives all new meaning to the old warning, "It's 10:00pm. Do you know where your children are?" They could be at the desk in the study, on the internet, engaging in good clean fun, or perhaps participating in some behavior that they might later regret. If we as parents are tuned in instead of tuned out, we can help them stay in the world, and yet not be of the world.

For more info, including a safety contract, software information, and a sample chapter, you can consult the book's website. For more new releases from the publisher, visit B&H Publishing Group.


Veronica Mitchell said...

It sounds like a helpful resource, but it also makes me grateful that my oldest is only 3.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Sounds like a great book! I agree with her about Myspace--it's been a safe and healthy way for my kids to connect with their friends without me dropping them off at the mall or movie theater to do so.


Jen Rouse said...

A good point, that myspace can be a safe and innocent way to interact. I've always judged it very negatively too. Of course, my oldest is only 3. Who knows what new technology will be the "in thing" in 10 or 15 years?

Carrie said...

Yeah, I'm definitely in the camp that is glad that their child is still quite young! =)

It IS odd to think about how early kids want their own cell phones. I got mine when I left home at 24 for convenience sake alone. I didn't even start to use it regularly until recently. I'm sure my son's time table will be a bit different.

As always - thanks for the review!

Katrina said...

Yes, this does sound like a great resource. I think of my self as fairly hip when it comes to technology, but it keeps changing and I know I'll have to make a deliberate effort to keep informed as the kids get older.

Vicki Courtney said...

Thank you, Jennifer for the kind review of Logged On and Tuned Out. I appreciate the support on monitoring software as I am occasionaly heckled in interviews (secular radio) for "invading my kid's privacy."

I love your blog and will plan to visit again!

HipWriterMama said...

This is perfect for my research. Thank you for sharing this!