Little football player (via CC Search)
A couple of years ago I listened to a heart-rending interview on NPR with Joe Ehrmann, former NFL football player and founder of Coach for America. I’d been the mother of a hockey player for more than a decade and was moved by Ehrmann’s call for transformational rather than transactional coaching. Like many parents, I found myself wishing there’d been more of that in our family’s experience. But my interest was more than personal. I’d been following developments in Internet safety even longer than I’d been a hockey parent, and the coach’s message showed me what had been missing in online safety education too.
Since the beginning of the field, about two decades ago in the U.S., the messages have been transactional: Do this (think, post, pause, block, monitor, etc.) and you or your kid will be able to stay safe, avoid danger, know what’s being posted, protect a reputation, get into college, keep your job, etc., etc.), right?
Transformational goes better with social Read more
It probably wouldn’t occur to most moms, dads, foster parents, aunts, uncles and other caregivers that #WhatMakesASuperhero is just the right hashtag to mark Mother’s Day (and next month, Father’s Day). But a beautiful little video about five-year-old Cammie and her aunt-turned-foster mother Camellia shows how small things are superpowers to a little child.
The video is part of the Vroom project and app for early child development. The app, developed “on the premise that every child is born with enormous potential, and every parent can help them realize that potential,” gives parents and caregivers little activities that “turn everyday moments into brain building moments.” For example, when you’re out running errands with your child, have him or her be the keeper of the list and check off errands as they’re accomplished; or when you leave the house or apartment, put your child in charge of turning off all the lights; or when waiting for a bus or a light to turn green, make up a story together about someone you see nearby.
So if you have a little child at your house, know that simple, conscious connecting is powerful: eye contact and curious, open-hearted questions about what a child’s seeing and doing during play in digital and physical spaces (see this page for more “Brain Building Basics”). An example I love came from media professor and grandfather Stephen Heppell in the UK (I wrote about that here). Listening to him taught me how to turn videogame play into experiential learning for both parent and child.
So happy Mother’s Day to all parents and caregivers, all superheroes to the world’s children! My hat’s off to you.
Much-needed clarity and simplification from U.S. experts in youth online risk and safety