Mentorship is the single most important commitment we can make to our kids. It doesn’t matter whether we are parents, teachers, school leaders, or administrators. If we interact with kids regularly, we are part of a community where mentorship is our responsibility.
I created this “Mentorship Manifesto” as a declaration of that responsibility.
Who Are We as Mentors?
- We are optimists. We don’t make assumptions about what kids do with technology. We give them a chance and we stick to the facts. We don’t succumb to fear.
- We are tech-positive. But though we believe that technology can be a positive force, we don’t think that technology is all-powerful.
- We believe in curiosity. Technology is a means to learn—to do other things. Kids’ minds are alive. If used properly, technology unlocks kids’ natural creativity.
- We get excited about kids and their creativity. We believe that we can learn from kids as much as they can learn from us.
- We recognize that misunderstandings happen all the time between adults and kids. We commit to getting better at identifying and addressing these gaps in understanding.
- We believe that kids are fascinating, and that we need study them in their habitat to truly understand them. We want to be invited into their world.
What Do We Believe as Mentors?
- We as mentors start from a place of empathy as a path to trust and open communication.
- We as mentors see that kids are very creative and insightful—but that they still need modeling and they still need help navigating this world.
- We as mentors recognize that being tech savvy is not the same as wisdom. Our life experience is a critical factor in the equation.
- We as mentors believe in collaboration over control. Co-creating solutions with kids takes advantage of their creativity and builds trust at the same time.
- We as mentors recognize the need to observe kids in their habitat in order to get a better understanding of their lived experiences.
- We as mentors recognize that the realm of social interactions is more complex now, and that kids need help in order to build good personal relationships.
- We as mentors believe in the power of curiosity to activate young minds.
- We as mentors don’t want to catch their kids doing the wrong thing – we want to teach our kids to do the right thing!
- We as mentors believe in creativity over consumption. All screentime is not created equal.
- We as mentors understand that tech limits alone are no substitute for engagement. Monitoring degrades trust in exchange for a false sense of control.
- We as mentors understand that part of growing up is about experimenting with identities, and that issues around “digital footprint” can constrain kids in the wrong way at the wrong time.
- We as mentors are ready to be accountable to kids, in turn. The good and bad habits we harbor with technology serve as a model for kids.
- We as mentors provide room for learning and self-discovery, making plans that don’t come from our anxiety and desire for control.
- We as mentors lead their families, teams, and community in service of a positive digital world for the next generation.
Raising Digital Natives: A Commitment
Join me in making a commitment to these principles today – a commitment to our kids and to one another. The way we interact and communicate will keep changing, but one thing remains the same: True digital citizenship is our shared responsibility and the stakes are too high to leave it to chance. It’s vital for our kids, good for our families, and necessary for our communities.
Let’s stand up. Let’s be mentors. It’s up to us.
About Devorah Heitner and Raising Digital Natives
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