Monica Vila is co-founder of TheOnlineMom, an organization that provides technology education to families and helps moms connect with brands they can trust.
When my daughter Sam does a school project, it’s usually quite involved. This month she’s planning to create a board game to highlight the qualities of hydrogen, her assigned topic. She has all the physical tools she needs, poster board, art tools, etc.
But there are sources to go through; the giant science textbook, her school notes, the teachers requirement of consulting at least one school library book. There is MyBigCampus to check into for last minute reminders and her phone is buzzing with questions and comments from her friends also working on their assignments.
While she learns to prioritize her time with all this information coming at her, she also needs to learn to filter and process the information. Choosing which physical tools to use to create something is often easier than filtering through and choosing the important data.
So in this age of information at out fingertips, parents have one more important skill to teach their kids: how to be discerning. The sheer volume of information that is available to us through the web means that we have to develop filters to identify fact from fiction, good from not-so-good, truth from opinion. The ability to curate, which was formerly the exclusive domain of museums and art galleries, is now a hugely important talent for our kids.
So how do we go about teaching our kids this digital age skill? There are some everyday tasks that kids engage in that can become useful training grounds:
From Club Penguin to Facebook, kids are engaging each other on social networks. Even with all the protections in place to prevent them sharing personal information, they tend to “friend” people they don’t know in real life. If you can teach them to be discerning about who they meet online, it’s easier to teach them to be more skeptical about the information they come across as well.
At my daughter’s middle school, the head of technology demonstrated to kids and parents how Wikipedia can be manipulated to provide inaccurate information. Schools can be an enormous help in teaching your kids how to curate sites and know which ones to trust for the information they need.
Kids can take hundreds of pictures with their smartphones and cameras but are not very good at deleting those that don’t make the grade. Cleaning up an overloaded photo cache can be an important lesson in choosing quality over quantity. (And good training for curating family memories later in life.)
Teaching kids which links to open and which ones to avoid can thwart phishing attacks and other malware threats, and is an important step in safeguarding personal information. And knowing when to ignore links will allow them to better focus on their school work and other priorities!
So it’s time to learn the art of curating the terabytes of content humans are bombarded with on a regular basis – it’s a survival skill and one that will provide an incredibly important advantage to kids in schools and the workplace of the future.
What do you think? Are there other areas of filtering and curating that we need to teach our kids?