Asking your kids to mentor you about one of their favorite apps or games is a great opportunity for childlren to learn about Self-Awareness. This inversion of parent and child (or teacher and student) roles not only provides kids with a different perspective on the ways that they use media, it helps them to understand this thinking skill in a more full and complete way, while giving you a chance to play together with your kids.
If you’re anything like me, your kids probably know a lot more about video games and technology than you do. Back when I was growing up, my parents were experts on everything. I assumed that they knew more about pretty much everything than I did. While that changed slightly in my teenage years, when I realized that they had no idea who any of my favorite musicians or bands were, there weren’t that many things where I could safely say that I had more expertise than they did. For the parents of digital children, those growing up in the last 15 to 20 years, that’s no longer the case.
So if you want to learn about the latest video game, what the funniest YouTube videos are, or which are the best new apps to download on your phone, you might want to ask your kids for help. However, unlike you as a parent, your children may not be very good teachers. They may want to show you something that they like, but not take the time to understand what you already know or don’t know. They may have difficulty teaching you at a pace that you can keep up with. To be good teachers, your kids will need to develop perspective-taking and self-awareness skills to help them be reflective about how they communicate, but also in becoming empathic regarding your needs and level of understanding.
Here are a few strategies you might use with video games and other technologies to help your kids become better teachers to you and, at the same time, improve their Self-Awareness skills:
- Ask them to treat you as if you were from another planet (they might already do this on their own). They will need to describe the what, where, why, who, and how that apply to the game they are teaching you.
- Ask them to watch you play the game or use the technology and give you feedback based upon their observations. Then ask them to give you feedback based upon their observations.
- Ask them to find games they think you might like. This makes them think about your interests, your general skill level with games, and something they might be able to share with you.
- Ask them to show you an app or game that they really love and explain why it is so compelling to them. This encourages them to think about their own interests and then effectively share that perspective with others.