Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teens, Technology and Socialization (Five Days of Blogging)

Technology plays a huge role in our homeschool.  We use the boys’ computers for online classes, CD based curriculum, internet based research and interacting with others.  The wireless going down is no small crisis for us. 

While technology overload can be a bad thing, I do believe that having your teens actively using technology will benefit them long-term.

Online classes are one way that technology allows homeschooled students to keep up with and sometimes surpass their counterparts.  Colleges today are moving many of their general education courses to the online environment.  It’s cheaper, requires fewer resources and allows them to service more students at once.  For some students who are self-motivated, this is wonderful.  For those that aren’t, online classes can be a real struggle.  I highly recommend having your student take at least one or more classes online as a high school student.  This can be through dual-enrollment at the community college or through the numerous homeschool offerings.    As a parent, help your student create a calendar of due dates, walk with them through the syllabus to understand what is expected, initially help them to stay on top of the assignments, and encourage them to engage their professors.

Another aspect of technology is the ability to be in touch with others – the dreaded “socialization”.  Of course, for most of us, socialization is a non-issue.  There are literally too many things for homeschoolers to do – we have to pick and choose to ensure they are getting the academics in addition to all field trips, activities, clubs and co-ops.  However, I do endorse online interaction.  It should be monitored because humans will do and say things online that they wouldn’t do in person.  However, if you know who your student interacts with, then using Skype, Facetime, Facebook and Twitter can be excellent ways to have on-going engagement with peers.  Two of my youngest child’s best friends have moved out of state recently.  He still talks to them daily.  What a big difference from when we were kids and moving meant saying goodbye.

Finally, technology is clearly the future.  Students should understand the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and, obviously, keyboarding.  Additionally, learning the fundamentals of programming, gaming, web development or database design gives students the opportunity to determine if that avenue is an option for their future.

Clearly, you are reading this because you are online.  You use technology.  Make sure your teen knows that technology is about more than downloading the latest dubstep and watching YouTube.  It’ll be an investment in their future.
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