Tag Archives: late-adopter

Oversharing and the Crossfire of Tech TMI

6 Apr

Time columnist Bonnie Roachman recently called out blogger Kate Tietje for publicly posting about how she loves one of her children over the other. Tietje’s post (and Roachman’s reaction) is a fantastic example of the Pandora’s box of issues parents open when they “overshare” using technology.

I’m all about self expression. But as a parent learning to embrace technology, there’s a fine line between self-expression and TMI in the tech sphere. (“Too much information” for those new the world of text abbreviations.) Personal blogging, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, can be a powerful way to communicate, but it has its downside, as Tietje has likely learned, since her post has been shut down to comments and she has since published a post in her defense.

Earlier on my Techno(t)parent journey, I posted some “common sense” tips for parents to share with their kids regarding technology usage.  Now that I’m knee-deep into my blogging experiment, I think I can safely recap some of my Techno(t)parent learnings to help other parents so they’re not inadvertently caught in any Tietje-type tech crossfire:

1) When you post personal information on your blog, it will live on *forever* in cyberspace – definitely long enough for you kids/spouse/family to read it.  As I’ve said before, tech is a great forum, but don’t share anything via technology that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of your local newspaper or might cause your family grief ten years from now.

2)  When you use tech tools, you’re no longer anyonymous.  If you write, post, text or otherwise publicly share something polarizing behind the safety of the “tech curtain”, rest assured, people will share their own opinions on your post – for good or bad.  It’s hard to play the “victim card” or back pedal in the tech arena, so think twice before you post, and always be prepared for a public reaction.

3)  When you publicly post pictures of yourself, your kids or other family members, you become a public figure.  For better or worse, like reality TV stars, your life becomes public when you put yourself in the spotlight.  Be prepared for in-person praise and criticism, especially if your followers know what you look like, the town you live in or the stores you patronize.  (See #2)  Your job or career path may also be impacted by what you post, so tread carefully.

3) Use technology for good. Educate, inform, and share funny stories, insights, tips and lessons learned. Provide value.  Ask questions.  Save the negative rants, guilty admissions or hurtful comments for your diary, vs. a public blog post, Tweet, or text you might regret later.  (See #1)

4) Model well. Demonstrate safe digital behavior and good digital maners.  Don’t text while driving, don’t take photos of people without their knowledge, or talk on the phone at the checkout counter.  Be the responsible, smart, tech-savvy person you want your kids to be.

5) Be a parent first.  There are millions of  great ways to use technology to help you parent, complete tasks, simplify chores and projects and gain knowledge.  But monitor the time suck.  You can spend hours interacting with others via technology at the expense of connecting with your own family,  so use your tech time wisely.   Set your limits, and then have fun.


Free Lecture for CT Parents at Darien Library

23 Mar

For Fairfield County, CT parents who might be interested, Warren Buckleitner will be speaking at Darien Library on Thursday, March 24 about parenting with technology.

Buckleitner is an educational psychologist, editor of Children’s Technology Review and a blogger for the NYT. His discussion is titled “Raising a 21st Century Problem Solver: A Recipe for Modern Parents.”  Sounds perfect for this techno(t) parent!  Sign me up.

Thanks for sharing, KS!

Digital Lessons from PepsiCo’s B. Bonin Bough

17 Mar

I confess, I’m wildly inspired (and slightly intimidated) by the uber-early-adopters who attend the  South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas every year.  These people are basically the pioneers of the digital frontier – and I’m excited to learn as much as I can from the gurus that network, present and share there.

I recently watched this great mini-clip of PepsiCo’s B. Bonin Bough’s SXSW presentation:

My favorite is was Bough’s reference to “digital physical fitness”…

“Digital physical fitness is the ability to adapt to changes in a digital environment.  And how do you get digitally fit?  The same way you do physical fitness.  It requires training, commitment…rigor.  It requires you to push beyond the point when you want to say ‘no’.”

For late-adopters, this is an inspiring concept.  Just like going to the gym and “catching-up” physically, we can “catch-up” in the digital world too.  It takes some work, but it’s certainly doable – even in the ever-evolving tech environment.

Thanks, Mr. Bough, for the real-life perspective, and check out more of PepsiCo’s interesting contributions to  SXSW.

Time for this techno(t)parent to hit the digital gym!

Email Thank Yous…Yes or No?

10 Mar

This blog post is dedicated to one of my favorite tech-savvy moms.  (She lives in Omaha and her initials are DP if she’s reading…)

Anyhoo, I cleaned out my kitchen desk this weekend and came across a half-addressed thank you note, complete with “forever” stamp firmly affixed.  I immediately cringed, realizing the baby gift thank you note I had intended to send six months ago had gotten lost among my post-baby paper clutter and never made it to the mailbox.  My face warmed, recalling the sweet handwritten note the gifter sent me in response to the gift I sent her for her little girl, who was born a month prior to my munchkin’s arrival.

So here’s my question:  In this day and age, is it okay to send email, text or Facebook thank you notes, or do you need to mail the real deal?  And will you require your kids to handwrite thank you notes as they grow up?

Prior to my “sleepless-new-mom” frame of reference, I would staunchly vote for the hand-written thank you.  My positioning was grounded in the manners my mom taught me.  A handwritten note shows thoughtfulness – by taking the time to  handwrite in a typing age, buy stamps, and get the note to the physical mailbox in a timely manner.  Plus, in this digital age, who doesn’t appreciate a non-bill piece of mail?

But  in my working-new-mom world, when I’m operating on two stolen hours of sleep a night and finding clean, matching socks seems like a miracle, thank you notes can fall into a drawer, only to be discovered on my child’s first birthday.  And where are the manners then?  Good intentions are great, but if they don’t get the job done, they’re not that good, right?

So while I’m a *huge* fan of the handwritten thank you, both for the manners and the skills it teaches, (and I will teach my munchkin this graceful way to say thank you for sure) today, I fall in the “email works” category.  It shows you acknowledge the gift.  It shows you’re thankful for the time and money the giver spent selecting, purchasing and shipping it.  And most importantly, it guarantees the thanks gets to your destination (spam mailboxes aside.)

So DP, in the spirit of Techno(t)parent, this is my formal, digital thank you.  I appreciated the gift *so* much, and the munchkin  practically wore the outfit out.  (And she’s still wearing the accessories!)  I hope you know –  since you’re a new mom too – it wasn’t a matter of saying thanks in my heart… I’d send you the half-addressed note as proof, but it may take a few additional weeks!

To everyone else, what do you think?  Is email or FB sufficient in the “thank you” department?

“Parenting with Technology” Author Diane Kendall Chats with Techno(t)parent…

4 Mar

I’m amazed at the in-depth knowledge out there regarding technology and parenting, given the subject matter is relatively new.  One great fountain of information I discovered is educator and tech reviewer Diane Kendall, who has spent over 30 years following the tech scene for both kids and parents.  An author and blogger, (and mind-blowingly-early-adpoter!) Ms. Kendall generously shared some thoughts with Techno(t)parent in a three-part series.  Read on for Part 1, my friends:

TNP: How important is it for parents to be digitally-savvy today?

DK: I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being aware and open-minded about technology as the advances and changes in technology come faster and faster and transform the world as we know it. Parents owe that to their kids who are going to live in this new world.  That said, that doesn’t mean you have to be up on all the latest gadgets and trends.  No one is, not even those who have the audacity to declare themselves “experts.”   It also doesn’t mean you have to spend all your money or time on technology. It doesn’t even mean you have to agree with how technology is changing the way things are done.

“Instead, the most important thing you can do is to keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to the technology that can help you be a better parent, be more efficient so you can have more time with your family, as well as be open to the technology tools that can help your kids on their journey to becoming independent learners.  You should invest your time and money  into this “personal” technology, and just keep an open eye to the pros and cons of the rest.”

If you take this attitude early on in your parenthood adventure, then you and your kids will be able to talk more openly about what technology works for you and for them, what you both find a waste of time and even what you find distasteful, not very savory or even bad digital manners. Getting the discussion started early, and not buying into the fallacy that your kids are going to be “better at technology” than you just because they are kids, is really what being a digitally-savvy parent is all about.

TNP:  Where or how should a “late-adopter” parent start?  How can parents with not a lot of time get up-to-speed quickly?

DK: Most of us are more tech savvy then we give ourselves credit for. If you want to learn about technology, pick a small project you know technology will absolutely help you do, and learn how to do it. One of my favorite projects for “late adopters” is compiling a photo book for their kids.  The subject could be a day in your family’s life, all the people who are important in a child’s life, a recent trip or the family pet. There are many photo services online who make it a cheap and easy process, and older kids can help take the pictures if you want to make it a parent/child project.

Take on a tech project that can be done in a short amount of time to get your confidence up. It also doesn’t hurt to find someone who has done a similar project and ask them to help you get started.

As a “late-adopter” it is important to stay positive about technology (which I admit when the technology isn’t working can be hard) and to break down what you want to learn into small digestible chucks. There are lots of free tutorials, demos and how-tos online these days. Look around for those and try a few things you’ve always wanted to experiment with.

To Market, To Market… Or not.

3 Mar

As I’ve previously shared, one of the biggest challenges I face as a new parent is the lack of time in a day.  And with the weekends *finally* getting warmer, the last place I want hang with my munchkin on a Saturday morning is the grocery store.  So, as part of my tech-experiment, one of the digital time savers techno(t)parent is exploring this week is the Peapod online grocery shopping/delivery service from Stop & Shop.   

This local, convenient service allows me to make a digital shopping list (grin), save it, pay for everything online, and then schedule my order for delivery directly to my home later in the week – all for a relatively small fee. 

I’m cautiously optimistic about the service.  My mom (who lives in another state) has used it with success before when caring for an elderly relative, and she’s been prodding me to give it a try.  So, this week, I’ll be throwing my grocery cart (and shopping list) to the wind.  And perhaps the hour or so I save will translate into a walk in the park with the peanut – or dare I selfishly say – a quick mani/pedi next weekend?

Stay tuned for my personal account and review of Peapod.  Wish me luck, and feel free to share any positive or negative experiences you’ve had with any similar services…

Online To-Do List Review

26 Feb

I love lists.  In fact, it’s a running joke in my family about how attached I am to my lists.  Maybe it’s because I’m a working mom and grad student and have a ton on my plate.  Maybe it’s because my house is in a constant state renovation, and since I can’t organize my physical space, I’m compelled to organize my mental space.  Or maybe I’m just type-A.   Whatever the reason, I simply can’t live without my lists.  

So, as a techno(t) parent, I attempted to be more eco-friendly AND organized, and convert my Post-its piles and scraps of old envelopes into digital lists.  I explored three digital list-building platforms – Todoist, Teux Deux and Remember the Milk.  Here’s what I learned:

Registration was free and a snap, and I like the sophistication of this tool.  It has mobile capabilities and is also in app format.   But even after watching this professional demo video twice, list building was still complicated for a late-adopter like me.  Am I just clueless?

I like the micro-manging options (indenting, color coding, adding links, bucketing priorities), but  this tool wasn’t as intuitive or easy to manage as I had hoped.  I’m sure once you learn all the features, the sophistication of this interface is helpful, (especially if you work in a task-driven arena like website design or PTA management,) but alas, the reason I need to make lists is because I don’t have time in the first place.

Teux Deux
This very visual, intuitive interface is basic and clean-looking, which is how I like my lists.  Registration was free, easy and fast. That said, the platform took forever to load and ultimately, my computer crashed — twice.  I went back and tried to reboot,  and when I finally got in, I couldn’t remember my login.  Overall, while I was attractied to the layout the glitches were frustrating, and not worth the time.  (And imagine if I took the time to draft an important list and couldn’t retrieve it!  Very ugly scene.)

Remember the Milk
The fun title alone implied this platform might be an easy list building tool.  Sadly, I was mistaken.  Registration involved a confirmation of my email address, so it took time to get started.  There was no online video demo on how to use the platform, and while the online FAQs were helpful, I was looking for a “getting started” section for the tech-illiterate like me, which I never found.  I got as far as the first task, and then gave up.  (To be fair, I get frustrated with tech easily, which is why I’m behind in the first place.)

My Verdict?
The only platform I could really figure out (Teux Deux) was the platform that crashed my computer.  And ultimately, I spent more time typing things in and reorganizing them than it would take me to scribble on a post-it.  So while I definitely see the value in digital list making tools – specifically when it comes to parenting on top of an already insane schedule – until I find an easy, intuitive list-building interface, I’m sticking with my good ole’ Post-its.

How do you make lists?  Have you found any online list-building tools that are more intuitive than the ones I reviewed?  If so, PLEASE share!

Interview With Parenting/Tech Expert Jeana Lee Tahnk…

22 Feb

Tech Parenting Expert Jeana Lee Tahnk

I’ve been crawling the cyberworld for some of the best resources on parenting in the world of technology, and I *really* dig Jeana Lee Tahnk’s Screen Play blog, which is published online as of Parenting Magazine.   Screen Play is chock-full of the latest tools, toys and news in the digital world, and written for both tech-savvy parents and late adopters like me.  I recently reached out to Jeana as a fan, and imagine my surprise when she generously offered to be interviewed by Techno(t)Parent!  I came up with a few quick questions, and  here’s what one of my favorite parenting/tech experts had to say about parenting in a digital world:

Q. What are the top 3-5 tools a new parent should have?   
JLT: With the way technology has progressed and the sheer volume of information that is readily available, all a new parent really needs now is an Internet connection and a device for accessing it, whether that is a PC or a smart phone. If you have a smart phone (I happen to LOVE my iPhone), there is literally an app for anything imaginable that a parent would need such as apps to simulate baby monitors, track allowances, keep moms organized, find local playgrounds, identify kid-friendly restaurants…literally anything and everything. And with Internet access, any question can be answered and any bit of information can be found to help a parent out. 

If parents also have a family PC in the house, it is also essential that they have security software on their systems. Not only do these suites protect the computer from the potential risks of infection, but they also have measures to fully protect children from any risks from being online. This is of the utmost importance.

Q: What are the biggest challenges parents are facing in the digital age?   
JLT: Technology is moving faster than we can all keep up with. And with that, our children are growing up in environments where technology is everywhere. I think challenges that parents face in this digital age are not only being aware of their kids’ technology usage, but staying ahead of it. I know a lot of parents who say that their toddlers know more about their iPhones than they do. Although many of them are saying that in jest, it’s going to be a continuing challenge to stay ahead of the learning curve when it comes to technology and ensure they are using it in a safe way. 
Q: How can a parent stay current with toys, tools, trends, and yet not get “swept up” in the fads?
JLT: Figure out how you want technology to serve you and then pick a few resources that will help you achieve that goal.  
Q: Is there any additional advice you’d offer to a parent stumbling around or feeling overwhelmed in the digital space?
JLT:  I would advise parents to figure out how they want to incorporate technology into their lives and start with a foundation for what they want to gain from it. You can use technology minimally to just send photos of the kids around via email, or become much more immersed in it to create movies, use it as a live calendar and messaging system and basically create a framework for it to be an integral resource in your life. It is easy to get overwhelmed with technology if you are new to it, but it is also easy to learn and adapt too. There is also such a huge support system online for parents, so if you have questions, it’s likely that a Google search will pull up more than enough information to help you.
Sincere thanks to Jeana for the advice!

From a Techno(t) Parent

3 Feb

As a techno(t) parent, I recently heard two bits of information that surprised me and became the driving force behind this blog.  They came from a Digital Diaries’ study from AVG  – an  Internet Security Company:

1) More kids aged 2-5 can play with a smartphone application (19 percent) than tie his or her shoelaces (9 percent).
2) Almost as many 2-3 year olds (17 percent) can play with a smartphone application as 4-5 year olds (21 percent).
Now, I think I have a smartphone.  (If a  Blackberry is, in fact, a “smartphone?”)  And I’m pretty sure I have a kid.  (She’s six-months-old and napping in the next room.)  But I’m embarrased to admit I don’t have any applications, except the partially-filled out one for daycare sitting on my desk. 
And to be even more honest, I wouldn’t know how to go about getting an “application” if I knew what, exactly, they were… Or how they could educate, entertain, or otherwise benefit me or my child. 

Merits of the study notwithstanding, (there’s some controversy regarding its validity,)  I quickly came to the realization that I need to up my “tech” game – if not for me, for my little munchkin.  Because if I don’t make the effort to get up-to-speed – and do it tout suite – I won’t be able to help my little girl navigate the technology-saturated world she’s growing up in.

I look forward to sharing my journey, in the hopes of helping other moms who aren’t brave enough to admit their six-year-old loads their iPods or they’ve never used a DVR. 

If you’re in the same boat, feel free to weigh in.  And if you’re “techno-savvy,” please share any tips, tricks, recommendations or suggestions that might help me along the way (in novice-friendly terms, please! No need to make me feel less behind than I already am, thank you!)  It should be an interesting read either way, as I try my best at parenting with technology.