Session Helps Close Tech Gap Between Parents and Kids

Most La Cañada Unified School District parents undoubtedly want their children to be skilled in the use of digital technology, electronic devices and software — but not to be controlled by or obsessed with such tools.
That was one of the reasons more than 20 people attended Parent Tech Academy Summer 2019 in the La Cañada High School library on Monday, the first evening of a two-session event that continued the next night. The program was designed to teach parents about healthy levels of technology use by youngsters and address the grownups’ questions on the topic.
“This is our fourth year for tech nights,” Jamie Lewsadder, LCUSD’s chief technology officer, told The Outlook. “We discovered the first year that the parents felt that they didn’t have the same skills as their kids, and that led to a lot of uncertainty in parenting.”
The Monday session seemed to spread confidence among parents.
“It was really informative,” said LCF resident Mark Sanders, whose son George will soon be a 5th-grader at Paradise Canyon Elementary School, after the event. “It was well presented and the school district has done a great job educating parents about technology.”
Sanders said he learned about the importance of calculating the amount of screen time children spend on their electronic devices on a weekly basis.
Lewsadder and David Paszkiewicz, the district’s lead instructional specialist, shared information on a variety of topics with the group.
“What I think is important for you to know about just thinking about technology is that we’re a resource for you,” Lewsadder told the audience at the start of the presentation. “This is a challenging conversation, but it starts with a conversation. And tonight we want to give you some tools for those conversations at home and also know what we’re talking about at school.”
She said the rise of e-sports, or competitive video games, has created a divide between parents and children because most adults have played only traditional sports.
“This new e-sports realm is nothing we’ve experienced as adults,” Lewsadder said. The result can be a decline in the connection among family members, something that can be rectified by parents having conversations with their kids to learn more about their online interests.
“Do not feel like you’re a bad parent because you don’t have the answers. … There are lots of ways to keep this conversation going,” Lewsadder said. “We’re here to support you.”
Illustrating the usefulness of some technology programs used by youngsters, Paszkiewicz explained the platform Kahoot, which helps users learn through games and can be used in class. Another educational tool he discussed is Flipgrid, a video-sharing device for students to answer questions in class. Attendees were able to answer questions and shoot a quick video message to Lewsadder and Paszkiewicz.
Parents were scheduled to learn about Google documents at Tuesday night’s program. Razi Soltani, an LCF resident whose son Arshan is entering the 5th grade at La Cañada Elementary School, was to know “what my kid is doing at school and what tools he’s using at school.”
She also found the idea of sitting down and having a discussion with her son about a contract explaining appropriate levels of screen time to be equally beneficial.
Recent LCHS graduate Rucha Kadam, who served on the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court, also spoke at the event. She told the audience that both of her parents were computer scientists and were well-versed in the field, and didn’t limit her academic online time.
“They had limits on how much time I could be on YouTube, on BuzzFeed or shop for clothes,” Kadam said. “Another thing that I found really helpful is they utilized a lot of Google technology tools to keep our family connected. We created a family Google calendar where we shared all of our events together. We could see where everybody was at. I would encourage you guys to figure out what works for you and what works for your family and take advantage of the tools there. And definitely have conversations about responsibilities.”

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