Digital Disorganisation & Parenting: Part 1 - Digital Literacy Dover

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Digital Disorganisation & Parenting: Part 1

Messy bedroom via
What does a messy bedroom got to do with digital organisation? And well might you wonder, well, more than you might think. I work with students throughout the college, or maybe a more accurate term might be nag, the digital equivalent of:

‘Tidy your room!’

'How do you find anything in here?’ 

‘Pick up after yourself!’ 

You get the idea. 

If you were to follow me around you'd hear exhortations along similar lines, only in relation to the state of student laptops, particularly the dreaded desktop

What does this have to do with parents? 

The problem I regularly encounter is that whereas most of our students can rely on their parents to be effective role models—for example in terms of their expectations about the tidiness of their children's bedrooms—this is rarely the case with the organisation of their parent’s computers. And that’s a problem; as parents you are in a much better position to model effective organisation than your children’s teachers. Ultimately what we’re really talking about here, isn't bedrooms or desktops, it's about mindset, just because the context is digital/virtual doesn’t mean it’s not as important.

Now I realise that as parents, if you’re around my age (most of my 40s already in the rear view mirror) and many of you are, you have an excuse; you probably didn’t even use a computer with a desktop operating system until you were in your 20s and 30s, and even then you probably had to figure it out for yourself. Hence the reason for this post, allow me to outline the fundamental expectations we have for all of our students who use a laptop, and by extension the fundamental we have in terms of expectations for teachers and parents as well; every time you open up your laptop you're sending a message to whoever you're with, the question is, are you being a good role model, or do you need to 'tidy your room'?

The Fundamental 4

There are lots of aspects to digital organisation, but the four that are most essential, and that also happen to be synergetic, ie all four are codependent, are:

1. Any browser you use should be connected to an associated cloud service, with Chrome that's Google, but all the main browsers provide this service free of charge. Once connected, all the files you depend on should be not be strewn all over your desktop, but should be stored, and organised online (2. & 3.) or/and in a place where they are constantly and instantly backed up to a secure online storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud to name but a few. 

4. All of the websites you rely on to function effectively from day to day should be organised along the bookmark bar of your preferred browser, one that is also connected and synchronised to a cloud account, so that those bookmarks, stored in folders, are backed up, and accessible in any other device that you use. 

The Essential Tech Slide Deck:

Be a role model of digital organisation

Using the slide deck above, this is the exact same deck that teachers, and mentors, and advisors across the college show to our students, you can do more to support your child's efficient organisation than we ever can, so what are you waiting for? Go tidy your room!

All you need to do is commit 10 minutes a day, until you have the fundamental four covered, then once you've recovered from the blissful sense of catharsis, move on to the others...

Now you can rest assured that you no longer need to just nag your kids to pick up after themselves, and tidy up their bedroom, but also that they need to clear out their desktops, tidy up their drive and organise their bookmarks as well!  :)

One more thing...

There are two other areas where you can be an effective role model, I've linked to other posts I've written about those as well below. 

Screen time: Studies indicate that working parents spend an average of > 9 hours looking at screens, everyday. So maybe that allowance of 30 minutes a day for your child needs reconsidering? 

Passwords: From what the students tell me on a regularly basis, their parents are generally notoriously poor role models in this area—see this post for some practical advice—but some basics you should ensure you model for your children are:
  1. Keep your passwords secret, your children should not know your passwords! 
  2. Note passwords are plural, you should have a different password for every account you use. 
Last but not least, see my follow up to this post Digital Disorganisation & Parenting: Part 2 which provided some guidance in helping your child build effective organisational habits that will benefit them for their rest of their digital lives.  When it comes to the use of digital tools for organisation, many—if not most parents—embraced these with enthusiasm some time ago, and are now generally proficient in their use. What they don't often realise is that they could and should encourage their children to use similar tools, in the same way, and for the same reasons they do. 

Where there can be confusion, is which tools to use; as there are a plethora of them out there. So I outline the organisational tools we encourage our students to use. While these may not be the same as the tools parents use, they will be very similar, and the ways to use them will be identical. So whether they're using Apple Reminders, or Evernote, or Google Keep is not the focus; it's not about the nouns, it's about the verbs, or to put it another way, it's not what you use, it's how you use it.

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