When I was a teenager (all those eons ago!) the most high-tech piece of equipment in our house was a typewriter that had automatic correction tape installed. So instead of using the hand-held white out strips, you could just hit backspace plus the correct key to white out a mistyped letter. I even took that typewriter to college with me in 1988. I still remember my 2400-baud modem that allowed me to send emails across the world in 1996—we thought we were so high speed!
Fast forward lots of years to our house with two teenage boys, and we have 11 devices we use to get online—that doesn't include the TV or the DVD player that both have Wi-Fi capability and can connect to Netflix and Youtube.
We are living in a tech age, and if you don't attempt to keep up with your kids, you'll be left in the proverbial dust as they race beyond your ability to understand what they are doing. We have done pretty well until our 10th grader started an AP Computer Science class this year. We aren't qualified to help with homework in that class!
My biggest piece of advice for all parents is to be aware of what your kids are listening to, with whom they are communicating (and there are LOTS of ways to do that online!) and what they are downloading. Make them share their passwords with you, friend them on Facebook, and lay out family ground rules regarding the downloading of apps, music and books. Teach them how to search online effectively and efficiently (which might mean that you need to brush up on it yourself so you can teach them!) Have them research and read reviews of products they want to buy, or apps they want to download.
If your kids are more tech-savvy than you are, have them teach you what they know. It will make them feel smart, and you'll get an invaluable education in the process! Most of all, keep the lines of communication open.
Karen Charney is FredParent's webmaster. Her 15 year old son is perhaps the only kid at their high school who doesn't have a smartphone. His 16 year old brother only has one because his "dumb" phone died and he's borrowing someone else's. =)