A mom from San Antonio, Texas, named Melissa Griffin has gone viral on Facebook for her extremely sensible advice on how to teach kids to work with technology. Griffith is an HR Director, so she’s constantly hiring young, entry-level employees, and has been astounded by how many are addicted to their phones—but barely know how to use it for actual phone calls or social interactions necessary at the job.
She starts by saying that parents have to be more self-aware about why they hand tech over to their kids.
“A lot of parents claim they give their kids devices so they can develop and keep their technology skills sharp,” she writes. “If we are not intentional about directing HOW they use this technology, they are likely to leave our homes with virtually ZERO actual marketable computer skills.”
Griffin has teenage children herself, and has been developing these points as a way to help them develop these computer skills she says her business and many others are looking for. Many of them are pretty basic, like giving kids calls to make as part of their chores and also to navigate bill paying.
It’s kind of basic Home Economics stuff, except schools don’t teach Home Ec anymore! Which explains a lot more than the tech divide, but I digress.
A lot of parents claim they give their kids devices so they can develop and keep their technology skills sharp. If we...Posted by HR Mom on Thursday, January 2, 2020
Here are her nine points:
1) Have them conduct basic internet research for you…
Examples: Have them research the best way to kill weeds or find the cheapest price for fence replacement, etc. Have them find the cheapest rental car and hotel for your vacation. Talk to them about how reservations and insurance work and HAVE THEM CALL to reserve it. Let them fumble and make mistakes on the call while you’re there to coach and encourage them. If they mess up, who cares? They need to practice while the stakes are low.
2) Have them call to pay any medical bills that come in. Show them where to find Date of Service and Invoice #. Sit with them and coach and encourage them through the call. Tell them what they did right/wrong and watch their confidence grow.
3) Have them call tech support any time something in the home goes down – internet, cable, water, A/C, etc. Let them walk through the steps for internet to come back on. This prevents your kids frantically texting you from college asking what to do.
4) Have them call to schedule their own haircuts, doctor and dentist appointments, and dog grooming appointments. Again, if they sound dumb or forget to say something or ask something, who cares? If they learned something, it was a success!
5) Have them renew your Driver’s License or voter registration online and take ownership of the Registration/Inspection process. They can practice on yours so they know exactly what to do when it’s their turn.
6) Have them complete your online Curbside Pickup grocery order. They can look in the pantry and add items your family needs and you can revise when they’re done. This summer, they can own this and have it completed every Friday night (for example.) Give them a weekly budget. This will teach them how much groceries actually cost. Meeting deadlines and budget limitations are real-life job skills. Maybe one day per week, they can’t use their phones until this is done.
7) Have them research a recipe, add those ingredients to the curbside pickup cart (see above), and make them responsible for cooking dinner one night per week. These are skills they need before they launch into the real world so they might as well learn now. Trust me, they’ll spend way more time than you think looking for the perfect recipe.
8.) Teach them how to use Microsoft Excel! They can use it to make a packing list for your next vacation. Ask them to color code items for each person and have them pack their own bags. Another Excel idea is making and keeping a personal budget or keeping a schedule of activities they want to do this summer. Have them track income of their lawn-mowing job or summer camp fundraising. When the use of technology is practical, they’ll learn it twice as fast and it will stick.
9) Have them make Powerpoint presentations for Grandma’s Birthday or Father’s Day, etc. You’ll be surprised how much time they’ll put into these and how quickly they learn how to use animation and infographics. One of my favorite Mother’s Day memories includes watching a funny slideshow created for me by my 8-yr-old. I once made my kids create a PowerPoint apology to me for sneaking food upstairs. It was hysterical and silly and they spent all day on it. They have some serious PowerPoint presentation skills because of “punishments” like these.
As Griffin writes, your kids are perfectly capable of learning to navigate Snapchat and a million other apps, because they want to. They need a push to develop the confidence to do the other stuff, too, so they won’t bring anxiety about basic stuff into the workplace.
Griffin told Scary Mommy that she was inspired to make this post because of her experiences with friends and family, not just because the ones she has interviewed have been woefully unprepared. She says that it’s more and more common for her to see people posting about regrets they have with what they’ve taught their kids on Facebook, and with how quickly their children have been taken over by devices.
“I’m a member of many parenting groups where I notice parents are giving their kids smartphones and laptops earlier and earlier,” said Griffin.
“t’s often not long before these same parents are in the group lamenting that they’ve basically lost their kids to these devices…I wanted to offer some practical ways for parents to use these devices to connect with their kids.”
She added, “It’s up to us to help our kids use technology not just to consume, but also to create and to contribute to the family.”
This is clearly something a lot of parents want and need, because her post has been shared over 87 thousand times.
“The response to the post has been incredible,” she said. “I’m hearing stories of kids helping around the house more, taking ownership of researching purchases, ordering groceries, and signing themselves up for school events.”
Hey, if you’re gonna be the most phone savvy generation ever, at least put it to practical use.