Monday, April 30, 2012

Draw-A-Stickman: A great therapy/teaching tool!

My name is Ashley Robinson and I work on the AT team under Jim's guidance. Jim did not sign on for a brand new clinician, but he has taken me under his wing and is teaching me the ropes. I really couldn't have done it without him and my supervisor Ruth Morgan (check out her blog at Jim has graciously welcomed me to guest blog about my experiences with technology as a speech language pathologist and tech specialist. This is my first ever blog entry, but hopefully the start of many more. So here goes...

Jim's youngest son, Ben, showed me the website:

It's a hilarious website that follows a stickman through several trials and tribulations. The user participates in the story by illustrating the necessary tools for the stickman to make it successfully to the end of the story.

There are also FREE Drawastickman apps (one app for each episode). I work in a middle school and high school, and whenever I can incorporate the iPad into therapy – it's usually an instant hit. Many of my students have language problems secondary to a learning disability and several of these kids struggle with reading comprehension. I'm working on teaching these kids to engage in the stories they read, specifically how to connect prior knowledge to make predictions and inferences about what is going to happen in the story. Finally, they need to evaluate their predictions to see if they were correct. For any of you not using – you should be. I searched “inferencing” and came up with several great resources including:

  • an anchor chart describing what inferencing and prediction mean (pulled from the Hall County Schools Literacy Site:

I chose this worksheet:

During the 45 minute therapy session, my students and I worked together to re-create the inferencing anchor chart. Then we loaded the Drawastickman app Episode 1. We started with the first event (“Can you draw a key in my hand?” seen above). Then we predicted what we thought would happen and what clues we had to indicate this would happen.

What I Think will Happen
Clues from the Story
What Really Happened
1. Stickman gets a key 1. He will open the box and something will jump out and scare him 1. There is a box in front of him. Most stories have a rising action.

Each student in the group took turns illustrating the needed object. Then we watched the action to see what really happened (and to determine if our predictions were correct).

Well, nothing jumped out to scare him – but there is another box to deal with....

What I Think will Happen
Clues from the Story
What Really Happened
1. Stickman gets a key

2. Srickman gets a balloon
1. He will open the box and something will jump out and scare him 1. There is a box in front of him. Most stories have a rising action. 1 Another box floated out of the first one

We continued through all of the events until we got to the end of the episode. The students in my group loved it! Unfortunately, there are only two episodes at this time. Now, that my students have a handle on prediction we can move to using this skill (and graphic organizer) while reading a short story.

Enjoy! Feel free to contact me with any questions:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

iDevices Will Be Stolen. Have a Plan to be Prepared.

If your district has deployed iTouches, either you've had some stolen, or you will soon. iTouches are so small,and slip into a pocket quickly. In addition,they are highly coveted, and easy to resell. In the past few years my district has had a dozen iTouches stolen. Many of the thiefs were quite brazen, quickly walking in and out of a classroom that they did not belong in, and pocketing the device on the way. A few went so far as to enter a teacher's office and took the device straight from the teacher's desk. Most of the devices were not retrieved because we did not have a plan in place

Location on "Find My iPhone"
My office is tracking a stolen device as I type this. I anticipate that we will have both the culprit and the device by tomorrow. At this point, most users are familiar with the "Find My iPhone" app that Apple offers for free. This is the app we use, but it's important to have a plan beyond the app. My understanding is that the app will locate a device within 10-15 feet (when there is wifi present). However, as a school employee I can hardly go to a stranger's home and make accusations. From early on we have conversations with our school police officer about the the tools available to reliably track a iDevice.

Whenever we set up a device for a student or staff, I first assign the device a name such as jtignor @CHS AT001. This includes the user's first initial, and last name, school initials, and asset tag. We use iTunes for this step. Apple kindly engraves asset tags or names on the back of iTouches prior to shipping at no extra cost, and we always get the asset tag. Just ask them about it. Using iPhone Configuration, I record the user name, asset tag, and the serial number is automatically recorded as part of the record.

Now, if a device goes missing, using "Find My iPhone" I can find the device. I can initiate a high pitch, annoying alarm system,that will heard easily from within a locker or backpack. I can also remotely lock the device so it cannot easily be used. I also have the ability to send a message, such as: "this iTouch belongs the CHCCS. Please return it to the school system. Theft will be prosecuted".  Using "iPhone Configuration" I can provide law enforcement with the device's serial number and other pertinent information.

These are the pieces of our plan we put into place to help track down stolen or misplaced devices.

Options from within "Find My iPhone"
1. Maintain ONE "Find My iPhone" database that you load all your devices on, BEFORE they are assigned. We have roughly 60 iPads, and over 100 iTouches. The password should be shared with only a few select individuals. My colleague on the Assistive Technology team can access the information.
2. Make sure a responsible adult who works with the student has your contact information, and knows to contact you as soon as they know a device is missing. Time is a huge factor.
3. Maintain an up to date data base of the asset tag, the serial number, user name, and school site, which you can provide to the police. We use "iPhone Configuration" which is free from Apple.
4. Do not retrieve the item yourself. Collaborate with your school officer.

Now the hope is, as word gets out that we track stolen devices, students will not think of them as easy targets. Consequently, we will have less theft.  One final note, I use the plan for my family member's iDevices as well, as some folks are notorious for losing their iTouch.  Nothing like the ability to sound an alarm remotely to help end a lousy game of hide and seek.

Happy Therapy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Visual Timer

If you have worked in Special Education, you've most likely used a visual timer. Chances are you purchased one similar to the photo above. It is a fantastic tool to show a student how much time is left on a task. Our students with Autism often respond well to such cues. The clocks are easy to use, and durable.
 The short coming of these clocks is that they generally cost $30 or more. Not a tremendous amount of money, but, still plenty for a clock when your in education! Further more the clocks are too big to fit in one's pocket.
There is a great app that offers an elegant solution to the cost and the size of the clock. Visual Timer, made by SnapTap retails for $1.99, and it runs on iTouches, iPads, and iPhones. Which means you are unlikely to bring one to a work site. 

Per the iTunes page for Visual Timer, "Visual Timer is a 60 minute timer with a graphical display that's also incredibly easy to use. To get started, just touch and drag the meter to the desired time and hit the Start button" 

In addition, "the timer now continues to run in the background when you quit Visual Timer. A notification will be displayed when the timer expires. Double tap the dial to toggle a text display of the current timer value. When the timer expires, a reset button appears". And finally, updated graphics for the retina color display. 
Visual Timer is a great response to an already terrific product.  It's easy to bring everywhere you go, lunch room, playground, work-site, and or course the classroom.  In addition, it's a great tool to recommend for families, so they can carry over techniques that are proven effective in the classroom. 
Happy therapy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A favorite app: iWrite Words

A favorite app: iWrite Words

There are a lot of great apps which help kids learn and practice letter and number formation. However, like most Occupational Therapists, I am particular about how students form their letters and numbers.  Many apps form letters haphazardly, or at least not consistently from the top down.  iWrite Words starts letters just like a Miata... Top down baby! 

Compatible on all iDevices, iWrite Words is 81.1 MB. The app retails for $2.99, and there is a lite version which is free.                 

iWrite Words dovetails nicely with the handwriting work I do with my students. The graphics and sound effects are engaging and playful. I have used it in sessions with a single student, and I've used it in groups of up to four students (each student using a iPad or iTouch). 

Upon opening the app the user is presented with options to trace upper-case, and lower-case letters, short words, and numbers.  The user drags a crab along the character outline.  If the user's finger deviates from the proper course, they hear a "boing", and start the character over. After tracing the character successfully, the user must drag the character into a spinning star shaped hole.

If the student is stuck, he can click on the play icon and see the character traced in animation. In addition, there are a number of ways a therapist/teacher/parent can custom tailor the app to the users needs. Customization includes many options, but to name just a few, the adult can change difficulty (tracing path size), and handed-ness.  In addition, the app allows for changing letter formation style. Without naming some of the more popular teaching methods, to the discerning eye, it becomes evident what they are offering. One can also change the gender of the voice that offers directions and affirmations.  

A final nice touch is the alphabet song which sings out with each tap on the screen.

Overall iWrite Words is a terrific app. It's appealing to my students, and an excellent tool to augment my handwriting work.

Happy therapy!

AAC Apps – Speaking APPropriately | The Spectronics Blog

AAC Apps – Speaking APPropriately | The Spectronics Blog

This article is by Jane Farrall. Read more from and learn about Jane at her website This is an external link. This is good stuff!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


For our Assistive Technology team the number was three. In the month of December we had three iPad-2’s break. All of our iPads were in thin protective cases. Really, just a credit-card thick plastic shell over the back of the device.

The first iPad broke when one of our students with Autism discovered the video camera, and how much fun it was to look at the iPad view of the room as he ran circles around the room. The last video is of him running, and a teacher in the background hollering “Joe! Joe! Quit running, you will break the iPad!”. This was followed by a thrill-cam view of the room, and than a black screen. (the student’s name was changed to protect the guilty). The result: shattered glass.

The second iPad became the object of tug-o-war between two high-school students. Evidently, one student unexpectedly let go, and the other caught off guard, accidentally let go as well. The iPad shattered on the ground.

The last broken iPad was my fault. Always wanting to be a good role model, and knowing the staff felt badly about allowing the ipads to be broken, I guess I felt I needed to contribute to the situation. I put my iPad in the backseat of my truck, and upon arriving at a school, opened the door to discover that the iPad had shifted on the seat. When the door opened the iPad was released to the perils of gravity. When the glass shattered on the third iPad I knew something needed to change.

Apple generously replaced the broken devices for $294.58 each. Certainly less than a new iPad, but still painful. It was time to look for some serious protection for our iPads. There are a number of offerings out there, but anything that seemed to provide real protection started at $60 and quickly went up. Now, I’m not saying it’s not worth the price, because $60 is definitely less than $294.58. However, we would need to outfit roughly 60 iPads. I needed to find a less expensive solution.

After searching the web I found a solution. It’s perfect, albeit not exactly elegant. Big Grips made by KEM seem to be made from the same rubber as Crocs. They are easy to grab, and provide a tremendous amount of protection. Everyone who sees them is intrigued, and likes the cartoon-like look. Most importantly, they offer great protection. All of our breaks occurred when the iPads fell to the ground and landed on their edges. Big Grips must have at least an inch of squishy rubber all around, like a picture frame. They come in different colors, including grey, pink, and green.

The Big Grip with a stand retails for $49.95 a piece. I emailed the company to get a quote, and all my correspondences were answered by Kirk Mills, the president of KEM. That’s a nice touch, though it may not last when the company grows. I originally felt the stands would be unnecessary, and asked Kirk to sell me just the frames without the stands. He gave me a volume discount price without the stands which was half the cost of the cheapest Otter Box, and then he threw in the stands for free. Once I saw students and staff use the stands, I realized that we wouldn’t want to go without! They are stable, and easy to use, allowing kids to use either hand to interact with the iPad.

There are just a few complaints, and they are minor. The first, takes care of itself with a little bit of time. When 60 cases and stands arrived in my office the rubber smell was very strong. I could barely stand to be in my room. After several days the smell had dissipated, or I’d become immune. When I sent them out, no one complained, so I think it was the newness and the pure numbers which overwhelmed me. I would add that Kirk confirmed to me that Big Grips are made of non-toxic materials, and as a product intended for children Big Grips are required by law to pass independent lab testing confirming this fact.

The other complaint is a bit more pragmatic. Accessing the charging port, headphones jack, and the volume, and on/off controls is difficult through the small holes with adult size fingers. It’s doable, but sometimes awkward.

Students and staff seem to really like Big Grips. We have them on our iPads, iPad-2’s, and when we upgrade to the new iPad, we will stick with this terrific product.

Happy therapy!

I-Pad-2 magnets potentially reprogramming programmable shunts

I recently received an email from a Speech Pathologist who works with my school district. She was concerned about something she’d read in an ASHA blog.  Here it is:
“In light of the concerning information on the I-Pad-2 magnets potentially reprogramming programmable shunts,  what evidence is known about the I-Pad 2’s magnetism and potential for adverse reaction for students with vagus nerve stimulators who are swiped with a magnet for cessation of seizure?  I don’t know the mechanics of the VNS, but am concerned that there could be similar disruption of their proper settings. Thank you for any information you may have.”
I contacted my Sales Rep from Apple, and he directed me to Sarah Herrlinger who is an “Accessibility Specialist” with the company.  Here is her response:

“A quick Google search brings up this: The two things of note in here are: 1) The iPad needs to be directly adjacent to the valve to be a problem and they say that “a distance of 2 inches is probably safe enough and 6 inches is certainly safe.” 2) They also state that the same is true of “all other sources of magnetic fields which includes most other electronic devices and household magnets as well.” They also say that they believe the device is “probably more beneficial from its academic and developmental benefit standpoint and we would prefer that the child still use it rather than be kept at a large distance from it.” This was also going around the internet from Medtronic in late February: Hi Jonathan:

Per our conversation this morning, I am writing to confirm that we did discuss the magnetic strength of the IPad 2.  As I mentioned, the information noted below was a preliminary notice we did send out to the field.  Since that time, we have quantified the safety distance needed for the iPad 2.  That is, as long as the iPad 2 is kept a minimum of 2” from the valve it will not interfere with the valve setting.

We are currently updating our patient information.  This information is forthcoming and you will be able to download the file from the Medtronic website at
As we discussed, it will be a couple of weeks before the final copy is ready, so please look for it then. “
So, the bottom line would seem to be: keep the iPad-2 two to six inches away from a shunt. Don’t leave a student unattended with the iPad-2 if they cannot understand that rule.

Creating Writers with Comics

There is not a child in the US who is not exposed to comics at some point in their life.  The mixture of pictures with text is compelling, perhaps more so for our reluctant readers.  I have yet to meet a child who is not intrigued by creating his own comic.
 One of my go-to tools as a School-based Occupational Therapist is Plasq’s Comic Life.  This software is incredibly easy to use.  Comic Life provides multiple templates to create a comic grid. Then you can simply drag & drop pictures into each frame, and then add a narrative box or dialogue bubble.  I use pictures of the students themselves, or find them on Google.  Many boys seem to be delighted to be in a strip with Spiderman!

 To turn this software into an intervention rather than just a good time, I typically create a page with clear action, and than the student and I talk out a narrative and conversation.  Sometimes I post questions in the bubbles for the students to answer on paper.  Once we have our text, the student writes out the narrative and script.

 Some students are challenged to generate their own ideas.  In such cases, we take turns, rolling dice.  The number that comes up dictates how many words the writer generates.  If we roll a “1”, we roll again, and add the “1” to the new number.  This shared process often helps free students up from anxiety about being creative.

 When the narrative and dialogue is written, we then transcribe it to the actual software.  If the student is working on handwriting, I print out the comic and they write in the bubbles.  We focus on letter formation, sizing, spacing, etc.  If they are typing, they type it in.  If you have a SmartBoard, or overhead projector, writing on the board can be a good way for your writers who struggle with letter formation (bigger often being easer).   When the project is finished, we print a couple of copies and they can hare with their classroom.

 The software is available for a free 30 day trial at their website, and is compatible with Macs and PCs.  In addition, Plasq offers an iPad version which sells for  a mere $4.99. 
Download the trial product, and try it with a few of your reluctant writers.  This will likely become one of your go-to therapy tools, and at $29.99, if your school won’t pay for it, most of us can cover the cost ourselves.

I recently discovered that the good folks at PlasQ offer an educators discount! Educators can get Comic Life for just $19.99.

Adding questions the student answers them on a separate sheet of paper, focusing on letter formation, sizing, spacing, and orientation.  When the student is finished with this task, we print the strip, and he/she writes the text on the final product.

Happy Therapy!

Assistive Technology Guideline

Make sure your goals are driving your technology, not the other way around!

Don't be blinded by the glitz!

Sometimes the inherent complexities of technology creates more obstacles to occupational performance than the original issue the technology was prescribed to remediate! 
Be vigilant to this conundrum!

Injecting excitement into the Writing Process: Toontastic is Fantastic!

As an Occupational Therapist I often find myself working with students who are struggling with the writing process. Students who fall into this category typically don’t enjoy writing, so motivating them to practice can be difficult. Consequently, I look for ways to engage and excite students in the products they are producing.

One of my favorite ways to get students excited is to use the iPad application called “Toontastic”, created by Launch Pad. This program was not designed to be an Occupational Therapy intervention tool, and yet, taps into so many skill sets, that it is ripe with possibilities.

Toontastic is a beautifully crafted app that allows the user to create a 5-part-story (or more), with a Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax, and Resolution. Using provided backgrounds, and cartoon characters (or drawing their own), students are able act out each section of the story. Toontastic records both the visual action, and the sound. A final polish allows the creator to choose the appropriate sound track to add an emotional element. The end product plays as a short cartoon in 5 parts. It can be uploaded to the free ToonTube and viewed by anyone with the address.

The folks at Launch Pad clearly know what they were doing when they set about creating this app. On their website they describe their “Learning Goals as being threefold:

1. Empower young children to share their ideas and stories with friends and family by bridging the gap between formal writing and imaginative play.
2. Introduce and guide key storytelling principles like Character, Setting, Story Arc, and Emotion to help structure kids’ creative writing.
3. Promote cultural literacy through ToonTube: A Global Storytelling Network for Kids, by Kids.”

In addition to the goals listed above, I have used Toontastic to work on drawing simple geometric shapes, handwriting, typing, concepts of first/then, turn-taking, understanding emotion, and diction.

When addressing the writing process, I use the app as a vehicle to generate stories: dictated, handwritten, and/or typed, depending on the level and type of scaffolding the student requires. Sometimes I like to group two or more students together to write their script. When they are done, they trade, and the other student must be able to read the lines if handwritten.

I use Toontastic over several sessions. It’s not a one-off therapy app in my mind. With the students I review the Story Arc, and we look at the scenarios that are offered by Toontastic. Once the students have chosen a story background, we explore ideas about the story itself, and choose the characters. Much of this is playful, and very engaging for students.

Using the Story Arc as a guide, the students write an outline. With some students I use the Story Arc to break down common stories with the students such as “Little Red Riding Hood”. This process helps the students understand how to create their own Story Arc.

When actually writing, we focus on letter quality, including sizing, formation, alignment, etc. We always use lined paper for this. Expectations obviously vary for each student. From the outline, we generate a script. Once we’ve settled on the script we write it out as well. Again, some student’s will benefit from me scribing. Perhaps the writing process is so onerous that the experience of successfully generating a story is significant. Other’s will hand-write, and then possibly type it, if typing is one the skills we are working on.

For students who are at a Pre-writing stage, or simply working on drawing skills, I like to use Toontastic to create their own character. I start by drawing a a simple geometric character, starting with a circle for the head, maybe a triangle for the body. I do the preliminary “under-drawing” in yellow, and then the student traces over the shape in a color of their choice. Again, depending on the amount of scaffolding the student requires, I may draw out the whole character and have the student trace it, or draw and trace one section at a time until it’s complete.
The end result is a polished cartoon that the student is very excited about and proud of. We will on occasion share the video with the student’s class on the SmartBoard. I also make certain to send the video link home to the parents, along with the pages that show the process. What a great way to show a student’s work.

Happy therapy!

The iPad: the single worst thing to happen to the field of Assistive Technology

Recently, I had a long conversation with the sales representative for a prominent software company. This company’s mission is to help students with the writing process. Let’s call the sales representative Bob. I asked Bob when his company was going to get involved in making applications (Apps) for the iPad. His response startled me. He said not only was his company not going to be making Apps, but “in [his] mind the iPad was the single worst thing to happen to the field of assistive technology in twenty years”. That’s right, Bob said, the “the iPad was the single worst thing to happen to the field of Assistive Technology”. 

"He said not only was his company not going to be making Apps, but in [his] mind the iPad was the single worst thing to happen to the field of assistive technology in twenty years”

 So for the record, let me state that I think Apple’s iDevices are probably the single most exciting and innovative technology for education since I’ve been in the field. The iDevices impact on the assistive technology field are already hugely positive. They allow us to replace pre-existing technologies at a fraction of the cost. New applications seem to come out every day. The interface is so easy and intuitive to use that the most techno-phobic teachers and therapists readily embrace iDevices
I am unabashedly a hugh fan of the iPad. I see it as (forgive the cliché) a GAME CHANGER in education as well as Assistive Technology. Its an understatement to say I was astonished by Bob’s assessment. I told him as much, but because I know that he’s an intelligent man I asked him to expand on his opinion . Bob stated that the applications being built for the iPad do nothing to address literacy. Again, the company which Bob works for writes software expressly to facilitate the acquisition of literacy skills. He did acknowledge that some of the applications being written are useful in helping with other skills (drilling math, and to some degree communication). 
I believe he is mistaken in saying that there are no applications made to support literacy. I can think of many great applications out there, some overtly supporting literacy skills like iLiteracy, Super Why, Build A Word, and the many Pearson Apps. Less didactic apps include two of my favorites, Toontastic, and Comic Life. Apps supporting other aspects of learning and living are many, too many to list in this post.

Bob’s biggest issue with the iPad was not this alleged lack of literacy support. What Bob dislikes about the iDevices is what he referred to as our blind love affair with them. He posits that educators and therapists will use iDevices to teach in the same way some parents raise their children with the TV set, hands-off, and giving over our teaching/therapy power. Bob asserts that critical thinking and instruction are vulnerable to the iDevice’s “magic factor”.

I believe that this is an interesting theory, and not to be ignored. How do we make certain the iDevice is well integrated into our teaching/therapy, and not give away our Clinical or Educational reasoning? 
 In the public school system the students that my team serve almost all have Individual Education Programs (IEP). An IEP consists of specific measurable goals a teacher or therapist is working on with a student to facilitate that student accessing his/her curriculum. Such an IEP should be geared to bringing the student as close to the Standard Course of Study as possible. A goal may read as follows: “Johnny will write a 3-4 sentence paragraph with appropriate letter formation, and correct spelling and grammar”. The goal is for Johnny to write a functional paragraph. How Johnny accomplishes it is the intervention. The intervention may be an iPad, computer, portable word processor; expanded keyboard, special software, and so on. The goal should not be, “Johnny will use an iPad to write a paragraph”. Upon Johnny’s graduation, no one will be concerned whether or not Johnny can write with an iPad. What they will ask, is can he write functionally (with no concern to what writing tool he uses).

 The IEP serves as the road map for a student’s educational journey. Such a road map is useful whenever teaching, no matter the teaching modality. Before deciding to use an iDevice, other questions should be asked, such as: what is the student trying to accomplish? What will determine success? How do we measure our progress? Than, we ask, what tools may help us on our journey? Perhaps the answer is an iPad. Perhaps it is another tool such as word-prediction software, or a simple word bank. Put the student’s goals before the technology and it’s hard to go wrong! 
And so, Bob raises a good conversation point. The iDevices are new and seductive. Everyone wants to use them, including our most reluctant learners. A few folks may even allow their educational goals to take a back seat to the iDevices glitz. However, if we practice as mindful educators and therapists, I am confident that we will be able to harness this exciting new technology to promote growth in our students. 

Once upon a time, students wrote with chalk on slate boards. Over time, students were introduced to pencils, pens and paper. Ironically, there was resistance to such "technological advances" even then. Chalk was messy, and ink was sure to ruin books, desks, and student clothing.  But, old technology gives way to new technology. I predict that within the next five years iDevices or similar products will have infiltrated most all of our schools with a one to one ratio. They will be instrumental in how we teach. Some of the novelty will wear off, and they will simply be the tools students learn with.

Furthermore, despite his assertion otherwise, I expect Bob’s company will either get on board, or be left far behind.

Mary Oliver qoute

to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

Excerpt from in Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

The Covenant

Raising children… The single most challenging and rewarding task put before us. If it is done well, it is both of those things. Children change so often. Just when we think we have a handle on what’s needed, what’s needed changes. 
Today’s adolescents look like adults. They are adult sized, which I suppose we were as well at their ages. But there is more to it than that. Teens today present with a greater world sophistication than we did. They dress like adults. My children go to school with children from Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. There is no question they cannot get an answer for via the internet, yet I’m fairly confident that they don’t ask for moral advice or guidance, and frankly I’d be leery of Internet based advice! Thanks in no small part to the internet, teens today are exposed to much more sexuality and information about sex than my peers and I were. Despite this, I worry about the emotional depth of their knowledge, because once again, they look like adults, but they are still children.

On occasion I hear parents lament how quickly children grow up. We lament the huge and negative impact technology has played on our adolescents, sometimes resulting in premature adultification. I am cogent that if my son got his first Facebook page at too young of an age, the responsibility lies only with me. In my excitement to embrace technology, perhaps I should have set better limits for him. As a parent, I think it is of utmost importance that we understand the technologies that our children are using. To ignore Facebook, twitter, or tumbler, just to name a few, means that we are making a choice to not be informed about most of the major ways that our teens are socializing and communicating with each other.  I believe it is imperative that we be our children’s Facebook “friend”. I believe it is imperative that we follow our children’s twitters, and give them feedback when appropriate, not necessarily feedback on their digital post, where we will likely embarrass them, but face to face. Children need to learn to be good cyber citizens, and as we guide them in their social interactions in the community, we also need to guide them in their interactions in the cyber world.

These are some of the topics I think about often.  I am not an expert by any means. I am a dad who is engaged in parenting, and probably making more mistakes than I wish. Time will tell… as will my children, but hopefully not in a memoir! I am writing about these things mostly just to think out loud, and possibly to get some thoughtful feedback.