My phone can do what? How my kids are teaching me about technology

Rebecca Stanisic

I got my first smart phone in 2009. The iPhone 4 (with a home button and boxy, heavy feel) was a favourite of mine. Even after all these years, there’s something that I miss about that phone model.  

But I mention the year because it gives you an idea of how long I’ve been using a smartphone and apps. I use it personally for social media, games (hello Disney’s Emoji Blitz), photos and of course as a little portable search engine.  

I use it for business – again on social – but also to create and edit videos, share documents and send and receive emails.  

It’s multi-functional and I would even say essential in some ways. And yet, there are so many features I don’t use or that I don’t know how to use (and that I don’t bother learning). I know this because my kids tell me all the time.  

Woman and child looking at a cell phone and smiling

“Mom, why are you doing that? Just save this setting and it will repeat itself” or “You’re sending a text wrong. Add it in the caption of the photo.”  

For everything on the phone that seems to take me four steps, it takes my kids two.  

I have multiple alarm clock times set – I never delete old ones and just add new ones. Meanwhile, my youngest sets up the phone alarm for specific days (school days, event days, travel days) and even names them. There’s a setting to change the alarm sound to something else, including a song on a playlist.  

Um, okay. I’m all about the default, I guess. 

So while we are the ones to teach our kids about digital media literacy, safety, privacy and more – we should also remember that they are teaching us too (you’ll notice I say this a lot. Because it’s true!). Even though most kids think their parents and teachers know more about digital tech than they do (this is a stat! I know it may not feel true), they often enjoy the chance to be the experts too. 

My little email/Instagram/photo/Emoji Blitz machine has the capacity to do far more than I even know (and there’s no way I’m alone in this) but our kids will be able to tell us how to set it up more efficiently and effectively. They’ll teach us new tricks!  

When MediaSmarts talks about using technology with your kids, this is part of what it’s all about. You’ll teach them things about how to think critically, fact check information and spot ads, and they’ll teach you how TikTok works or how to make the most of your phone settings.  

It doesn’t mean I’ll listen, but at least we know it’s an option and we can keep trying, while keeping those communication lines open! 

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