Kids Can Change the World with Their Phones: Do Your Kids Know How?
By Ariane Robinson
So many amazing changes and movements have been created by teens across the world. Powerful examples like Malala Yousafzai’s fight against the Taliban for girls’ education and the students behind the more recent #neveragain movement after recent school shootings show the incredible impact young people can have on their communities and the world.
As parents, we can teach our children that they too have a powerful voice and that thanks to technology, they also have easy access to various platforms to raise awareness about issues they care about. These platforms can help empower our children to use technology for good and encourage them to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Fostering critical thinking and problem-solving in our children, can begin by asking impactful questions such as:
- What do you want to do with your life? Who would you like to be in five years? In 10 years?
- Who would you like to help with your friends? In our community? In our country?
- What kind of changes would you like to see in the world?
- How can technology help you make those changes?
After answering these questions with your children, you can then use the following resources to help your child to understand their world and discover ways that they can make positive changes:
- Find ways to connect your children to others around the world. Using websites like Epals is a great way to do this. This is a website that can be used to connect a child’s classroom to other classrooms around the world. Talk with your kids’ teachers so that they can get a closer look and better understanding of the struggles that kids their age are facing around the world. (Lynch, 2018)
- Teach kids to use digital communication such as Google Slides to advocate for social justice in their local communities. Children can create a presentation for city council members, or create a YouTube video about the importance of clean water. (Lynch, 2018)
- Help kids stay aware of current events and find ways to respond to them. Most of the current movements these days have a big social media presence. It is important to teach your children how to evaluate the information that they find on these social media pages and their credibility. (Lynch, 2018) If parents are not sure how or where to begin when teaching children about evaluating media and media credibility, the book Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure can be a great help.
- Teach kids to ask themselves these questions when evaluating the credibility of information they find online, including social media posts, news stories, and other accounts:
- Location of the source – Is the person who is sharing the information actually located in the place they are tweeting or posting about?
- Network – Who is in their network and who follows them? Do I know this account?
- Content – Can the information be corroborated from other sources?
- Contextual updates – Does this person usually post or tweet on this topic? If so, what did past or updated posts say? Do they fill in more details?
- Age – What is the age of the account in question? Be wary of recently created accounts.
- Reliability – Is the source of information reliable? (John Hopkins University, 2018)
- Find and use apps with your children that are designed to promote social change (Lynch, 2018). For example in 5 Ways Kids Can Use Smart Phones for Good, it mentions apps like Charity Miles and Acts of Kindness which allow kids to incorporate small suggestions that can make a difference in activities they may already be doing every day.
- Talk with children about resources online that are useful in helping to educate and improve learning. There are many free or low-cost resources such as Khan Academy and Massive Open Online Courses. You can use Khan Academy with children as young as preschool all the way up through high school, and they offer fun classes in everything from telling time to making web pages
As parents, it’s important that we teach our children that they matter and that they can make a difference! We can educate ourselves, and then guide our tech-savvy kids to use technology to better themselves and those around them by exploring issues that they are passionate about.
For a fun, simple way to begin the conversation about how to use technology for good and to create positive change check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good.
Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She is a Marriage and Family Studies Major and a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH. A program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.
John Hopkins University. (2018, April 2). Guides: Evaluating Information: Evaluating Social Media. Retrieved from http://guides.library.jhu.edu/c.php?g=202581&p=1335031
Lynch, M. (2018, May 06). Leveraging Edtech for Social Good. Retrieved from http://www.thetechedvocate.org/leveraging-edtech-for-social-good/