Speaker enlightens audience on great uses of Internet and provided tips for curbing harmful online behavior
Presenter Kevin Honeycutt said, “One way to help kids understand the consequences of what they do online is to tell them fairy tales.” He asked the audience, “Don’t most of Grimm’s Fairy Tales have just terrible consequences for people who make mistakes?”
Honeycutt gave the example of a college athlete going to Twitter to talk down his coach. The athlete loses a full-ride scholarship to college because his words and actions are seen by many and don’t reflect the best the college has to offer, which is their standard for student-athletes.
“The high school coach is a placeholder for the college coach. You can give worst case scenarios for impulsive behavior on the web, and you can probably find examples in which it actually happened. These are digital Grimm’s fairytales.”
The computer or device, Honeycutt said, is not a diary. It’s a door to your home. Hence, it’s not invading your child’s privacy to see everything in social media and chat windows, games and texts. “When did parents get disinvited to that?”
The answer, though, is not to ban devices, but we must take care with those that pull in its users. “A DVD player is a push device; it pushes out movies. Small children can have portable DVD players in the car and it keeps them quiet. Meanwhile we have that song from ‘Frozen’ in our heads for weeks!”
Smartphones, tablets and computers are push-and-pull devices. They push out information and also pull the user in to a variety of worlds, Honeycutt said. The way to stay out of danger, Honeycutt said, is “Don’t have a secret life.” He said today’s generation of parents is the first to have digital kids, that is, children who have had the Internet in their lives from the beginning, and “there’s no tutorial telling us how to navigate it.”
Rules can help. “Ask yourself if posting this will make things better or worse,” Honeycutt said.
“Are you willing to have 100,000 kids see this? Would you be embarrassed if mom saw it?”
Having a secret life, presenting yourself one way in public and another online, “breeds sociopaths,” Honeycutt asserted. But “good kids do stupid things when no one’s around.” Anonymity is dangerous, as is the belief that if you delete a post, it is gone. The ability to screenshot and archive means one post can follow you around for the rest of your life.
Selfies are another danger. “I don’t understand why we now have a selfie civilization,” Honeycutt said. “It’s all image, and says nothing about your belief, your faith, or what you stand for.” Honeycutt would replace snapped selfies with soul selfies, a 30-second video in which you tell the world who you are and what you stand for. Honeycutt has posted his on his website.
Honeycutt challenged the parents and kids in the audience to consider, “What is your legacy?”
What can you do to build a life, a career?” Honeycutt demonstrated websites to help with this, including CafePress, where users can place their original photographs and art on 1,000 items from tee shirts to mugs to baby onesies.
He challenged parents to surround kids with wisdom and love and invest in their lives. “There is more bandwidth in a smart phone than what took us to the moon on the Apollo spacecraft. There’s better resolution in the smart phone than on the Nikon cameras I used to teach photography.”
With these tools, if kids are busy doing great things, they will not have as much opportunity to do stupid things, Honeycutt said. A teen can ruin his or her life with one click. “We need to encourage our kids to be the good person they are online.”
Honeycutt told the parents they should be proud of their great kids. He has done talks around the country and said in some places the kids are not as respectful. But there is work to be done. “There are more honor students in China than there are students in the United States. And many of the Chinese students want to study at American colleges and universities. It’s the same in India. How will our kids get those spots at great colleges, and get those good jobs?”
A digital legacy is the new resume, and there are numerous great apps and sites where kids can create. On Spoonflower, kids can have wrapping paper or fabric made from their original art or photographs. On Tunecore, kids can upload their music and sell it on iTunes, keeping 100 percent of the revenue from their sales. “It’s anything that’s sound,” Honeycutt said, “they can read their writings and create an audiobook, they can do spoken word, anything.”
A big rule in the Honeycutt house is that each week his 13 year old son must create something he’s proud of. The Internet is not just for socializing and consuming the creations of other people. “I’d love to see this school have a dance where you can only attend if you have contributed music to the playlist.” He also recommended the school offer a class or after school program for kids who want to be entrepreneurs or creators, with lots of adult mentors around to help them meet their goals.
After the presentation, Honeycutt allowed kids to try his pocket guitar and other music and rhythm applications.