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Parents need Technology 101

Whoa horseyback upyou want me to “insta” who, and “twitter” whatbecause I should “kik” somebody? OK, let’s have a meeting about this. It is too much to compute. Good grief, how much technology does it take to spin a parent’s head?

This is partly my fault. I knew what I was getting into when Santa delivered an iPhone for one of my offspring this Christmas. I had written a contract ahead of time and knew exactly what I was going to say. “If you want this phone, you must sign this technology contract. Then, you will need to show me how this contraption works.”

Signing the contract was one thing, but getting a lesson on the “apps” was way more than I bargained for. Taking notes was easier once I could see all the functions. My favorite was “the flashlight app.” Flashlight app?! Whatever happened to that skinny yellow thing with batteries that you keep in the kitchen cabinet in case the power goes out?

Our children’s technology skills are much more advanced than ours, and sometimes they use that to their advantage. It is time for us parents to get real! Take a stand and beat them at their own game. But that is easier said than done. I did not grow up with any of this type of technology: iPhones, iPods or iPads. They’re all very complicated, and I don’t understand half of what they are capable of. There, I’ve said it! I won’t pretend any longer.

The younger generation has moved ahead once again. I learn to text, then as luck would have it, one of my children start using Skype. So, I learned Skype and now “face time” comes into play. And so on and so forth. While my tech skills are getting better, I still feel like I am swimming upstream without a paddle. It is a full-time job and the kids always seem to be one step ahead of the game. How does a parent keep track of it all?

However, as parents, it is important to monitor their online activity. Call it parental hacking if you want, but too much social media for youngsters could have some very dangerous consequences. Their phones give them so much power. We need to continue to teach them about what could happen if they are not careful. It is a never-ending process.

They don’t like it and I am sure they will come up with various ways to bypass my parental controls. The word “delete” comes to mind. But I feel confident they will see the justification for my actions once they have their own children.

In the meantime, I continue to chase the American dream: to figure out what in the world my children are up to online. I wonder if there’s an app for that?

Colleen Malloy-Cagnassola writes about teens and advocates for children with special needs. Visit her new blog at