In January of 2019 I began to notice more conversations among parents around teens and social media.
I had just completed my PhD in Educational Leadership where I studied home educators and how they use technology in their homeschooling. I surveyed over 300 parents from all over the world and found while most parents were comfortable with using tech for teaching, many were concerned about their kids’ online habits and communication skills.
Around this same time I heard about a group of parents starting a nonprofit for parents and community members to Stand Together And Rethink Technology, now called: START at westartnow.org.
START’s following on Facebook grew fast as they began giving workshops to inform parents and bring them together to connect, collaborate, and talk about their child’s technology use. After attending one of these sessions, I left encouraged and wanting to help.
I volunteered for a few months, helping with research and gathering resources. In that time I learned A LOT about parenting in a digital age. I now follow START on Facebook and have attended sessions they provide on a host of subjects such as how to reduce the rise in depression, anxiety, pornography use, and suicide among youth living in a tech driven world.
What I like most about START is the five rules for parents to follow so they can steer their children toward digital health.
One: Start with yourself by modeling healthy tech use for your kids
Two: Tables and bedtime should be device-free zones
Three: Accountability is easy when using filters and applying settings
Four: Ride.Practice.Drive. the idea that kids need a driver’s ed approach to tech training
Five: Time well spent is by connecting with others online and offline
Yes, their five rules to rethink technology begin with the letters of their organization’s name!
Jacqueline Kennedy once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
As we raise our children to be smart digital kids it’s a relief to know we can find helpful direction from organizations like START.