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Heather Siple-Parents Day-001.JPG

If you’ve ever gone to a conference on anything, you know it can be hit or miss. The speakers you think will really motivate and interest you can be duds, or you can come across one you had little interest in that sparks your imagination and offers pearls of wisdom. At the National Small Schools Conference, that was the case for me.

Jordan Shapiro, author of The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World and professor at Temple University, spoke about a new way to view screen time. As he waxed on about his interest in ancient philosophers, it became quickly apparent that I would have to dig deep to connect to his message. And then there it was. He was speaking in a way that helped me understand how we teach kids the expectations around behavior – from learning to playing. His analogy was that he has to help his kids learn to cross the street. He wouldn’t trust them to do that alone until he did it with them hundreds of times and was certain they would remember to look both ways and could cross without getting hurt.He followed that story with this question: Why would we say, “Here’s your phone, iPad, etc.” without the same amount of supervision and support? Why would we just let them alone to their own devices – literally and figuratively? We need to enter our children’s world, and play and work to see this world through their eyes.

We can only begin to shape their use and understand their interest when we ourselves – the adults who are responsible for their growth and safe transition through childhood – sit alongside them asking questions and listening to learn from them. It is only by watching, listening and engaging that we can help to guide our children as they learn to use the technological tools that have become a huge part of our daily lives. It was a call to action that resonates with many adults stewarding children in an ever-changing landscape.