Thursday, June 9, 2011

You have now heard of sexting - talk to your teen

Thanks to Congressman Weiner many adults are now less ignorant about the phenomenon known as "sexting." Your teenager, likely snickering in the background at your reaction to the recent n, has known about sexting for quite a while. And now is the time to talk to your teenager.

Start with a discussion but don't lead the discussion. Tell them you are just becoming aware of this and want to know what sexting experiences they might have "observed." If your child believes you are about to attack them you won't learn anything and the point is to first and foremost learn what your teenager has experienced to date. So ask what they have observed then listen. Dispassionately! If you react and start lecturing you won't learn anything. Just listen!

After they tell you the sexting involving their "friends" ask if they have had any such experiences. If you have been quietly listening and taking it all in, this might be when you really hear some revelations. Keep listening! Even if you are shocked, or upset, keep listening!

Ask your teenager what they think about the current news - an adult man contacting young women having racy conversations and sharing inappropriate pictures. Keep listening. Now is when you will learn something about the underlying moral values you have already instilled in your child. You will also learn how their point of view about sharing things online may be different from yours. Later you will have a conversation about these things but right now you are still eliminating your own ignorance and gathering information.

Ask your teenager if there is anything on their computer or their phone which they wouldn't want a family member to see. Their facial expression will relate volumes and may not match the answer they give. Your goal is to have this be open communication so if you jump into discipline mode now this conversation wil be over. And you will have ruined the chance to have conversations about deep and important topics later.

End the conversation now. Period! You need time to process what your child has told you and they need to see this was a safe conversation. You will have opened the door to further talks if you end the conversation without reacting. Thank them for helping you understand this phenomenon and invite further conversation.

At a later time, if discipline and parental oversight are needed, move into that role. When you do here are a few resources. I will share further resources as I find them, and I will share parental oversight suggestions and tips in a future posting. Today's message was to start a conversation and then LISTEN!

Connect Safely: Tips to Prevent Sexting
Talking about Sexting

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Global education or spatulas and prison cells

A teacher in my Computers for Educators Level II course posted his thoughts about using technology to help our students make global connections. His message was so eloquent I asked to share it. Thank you Jeff Meis!

It was in the “Did You Know?” video from module 2 that stated China will soon be the number one English speaking country in the world. From The English Blog, a review of an Irish Times article about learning English in China states that, “in China, English allows you to travel and to gain social advancement, and English-language teachers have become minor celebrities.” This is a commentary on China’s goal of becoming an industrial leader in a global economy. They recognize that the international language of business is English and their top export markets are the European Union and The United States of America. China recognizes that in order to compete globally they must learn about and adapt to their most viable trade partners.

The United States of America’s top export market is Canada. Some might not think Canada’s culture is too different from the United States’. Have you ever been to Canada? Quebec is far different than southern California. But still, most of Canada is English speaking which requires little language and cultural training on the part of Americans. However, the next top export markets are China and Mexico. Most would consider these countries as having cultures quite different the United States. As a country, if we are to continue to trade globally, to succeed globally, and maintain a high quality of life in the United States, we must maintain, expand, and create economic partnerships. We can’t do that with the expectations other countries will always adapt to the United States’ cultures. If we are educating our students in preparation for higher education which in turn is preparing them to work in a global economy then we must educate them on and provide experiences with other cultures.

For example, did you know that when conducting business in China it is proper etiquette to accept business cards with both hands and you should not discuss business at meals. Or when conducting business with Dubai via email a common way to end a message is “Aa,” which is slang for the Arab greeting “Assalamu alaikum.”

Sites and tools like the Global Education Collaborative, ePals, iEarn, Skype, Voicethread, Ning, The Flashmeeting Project, and Education Beyond Borders are examples of ways students, teachers, and others can communicate and collaborate internationally. If we can create these experiences for students, virtual or otherwise, then we are preparing them for success in the 21st century.

If we don’t create these experiences and, instead, we keep education stagnant then we might as well give our students spatulas and/or build more prisons.