Real-Life Tech

One of our    START Rules of Thumb    is:    Ride. Practice. Drive   … use a driver’s ed approach to tech training. The idea is that before your kid is ready to drive a smart device independently, there is a learner’s permit season—where you log hours in the passenger seat, coaching them for the road. Not sure where to start coaching? We loved these tips from Melissa Griffin, also known as “HR Mom,” who has developed internship programs at companies like Petco and Nationwide. Her work with hiring and managing young professionals has given her powerful insight about ways to help your kids practice for a lifetime of healthy tech use.

One of our START Rules of Thumb is: Ride. Practice. Drive… use a driver’s ed approach to tech training. The idea is that before your kid is ready to drive a smart device independently, there is a learner’s permit season—where you log hours in the passenger seat, coaching them for the road. Not sure where to start coaching? We loved these tips from Melissa Griffin, also known as “HR Mom,” who has developed internship programs at companies like Petco and Nationwide. Her work with hiring and managing young professionals has given her powerful insight about ways to help your kids practice for a lifetime of healthy tech use.

A lot of parents claim they give their kids devices so they can develop and keep their technology skills sharp. If we are not intentional about directing HOW they use this technology, they are likely to leave our homes with virtually ZERO marketable computer skills.

I’m an HR Director and my team hires entry-level employees on a daily basis... We hire so many young 20’s who are downright addicted to their phones yet don’t know the basics of using technology and struggle with making and receiving phone calls. The anxiety levels these “kids” (new hires) face when they encounter even small amounts of conflict or gray areas on a customer call can be debilitating for so many.

As the Mom of a teenaged son, I thought I’d share some practical ways to prepare your kids for real-life use of technology needed for “adulting.”

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. These are skills they need when on their own!

4) Have them call to schedule their own haircuts, doctor and dentist appointments, and dog grooming. Again, if they sound dumb or forget to say or ask something, no problem! 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 Vehicle 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 graphics. 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.

My point is, if our kids have time for HOURS of Snapchat or Instagram, they have time to learn marketable skills on these same laptops and devices. As they become more and more confident in these “adulting” skills, the less anxiety they’ll experience when they’re on their own and are expected to learn them all at once. Ease them into these experiences while you’re there to encourage and equip them.

Side benefit: Encouraging technology use that CREATES and CONTRIBUTES to the family connection is critical to combat depression and hopelessness. When they know their parents are counting on them as a critical part of what makes the family work, it increases their sense of purpose and belonging.

To hear more thoughts from Melissa about raising confident, well-rounded, happy kids who have skills to pay the bills, search @MelissaBGriffinHRmom or “HRMom” on Facebook.

Krista Boan