A Healthy Relationship With Digital Media

Here's a quick list of ways that technology has improved life in my family.
By Michael Rhattigan



A Healthy Relationship With Digital Media

Most parents are well aware — and rightfully concerned — about the potential negatives from the growth in digital media among kids. Things like cyberbullying, privacy, internet safety, decreases in reading, and reductions in physical activity are real concerns.

So is the digital world all bad?
Of course not. Let's not forget, the digital age also brings many, many positives. Here's a quick list of ways that technology has improved life in my family.

Storage of Photos & Videos
The digital world has helped most of us eliminate those massive boxes of albums, loose photos, and home videos. You can store them on hard drives at home and also back them up to sites like Google DriveDrop BoxMicrosoft OneDrive or Apple iCloud, all of which offer free storage for limited amounts.

Storage and Sharing of Important Files
The possibilities extend well beyond simply photos. My wife and I keep all of our son's immunization records, medical details, and insurance information in documents/PDFs on our computer at home, as well as on our smartphones. The digital format makes it easy to share these with our parents and siblings for those extended visits (just in case). We do the same with important contact numbers (home, work, and cell) for all of the family.

Electronic Scrapbooking
Though we don't call it scrapbooking, that's essentially what we do. We scan and digitally store all of our son's Crayola masterpieces and cute certificates (e.g., his first Mets game). Tons of iPad and Android apps exist for this, such as Scrap Pad or Scrap It HD. We're still just in the storage stage (space is at a premium in a two-bedroom NYC apartment) but I'm sure we'll move to one of these apps in the future to produce actual books.

Future Email (** Personal Favorite**)
You know all those family photos and pictures you email to grandparents, siblings, or friends? I created a "future" email for our son on Gmail and cc: him on these messages. My father, the comedian in our family, usually responds with a witty reply or clever caption. Others write cute notes about the photo or add memories from the specific event.

Once our son is old enough to have his own email account, I plan to start bcc'ing this account on the messages so I still keep a secret log of his childhood. You can do the same and turn over the account at an important milestone, such as a quinceanera, bar mitzvah, confirmation, or graduation. Won't our son be surprised when he sees this photo in about 15 years?!
Come back next week for a list of specific sites and apps that I recommend.

What ideas do you have, and how do you utilize digital media for positive things? Share your ideas on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.

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