Parenting Digital Children/& Youth In Diaspora/by Rev. Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.


Article No. 2 in a series/Read Article No. 1 by Mary Kiriba published by Kenyan Parents in USA

Welcome to the Digital age. You may not like it. You might not know a lot about how to use it. But your Children/Youth (C/Y) do. C/Y in this context refers to School Age Children, especially from Grade 3 to High School. That is as far as your parenting authority will go in USA. But once a parent always a parent…in a way parenting continues. You are the most significant person in the life of your C/Y. Trust me when I say, if we don’t take trouble to monitor children and to supervise youth, we will miss investing in the most significant family relationships. Am especially concerned with investing in Generation Z. These are C/Y born between 1990s and 2000. Some are about to graduate from High School. I have been working in various capacities with Generation Z for the last 15 years. I am amazed and impressed by their use of smart devices. They are our digital natives. They are growing up in a world that is purely defined by internet, smart phones and devices or gadgets. For a person like me I am fascinated by technology. I first learned how to write the name WAMBUI” on the dirt, under the African Skies. Yet today I use a computer as a tool for teaching as well as for ministry. Though I am a digital immigrant, now I cannot imagine a world without internet. Can you?

In the same workshops where we talk about C/Y academic excellence, nurturing their spiritual growth or talents and abilities, we should also caution parents about the dangers of neglecting to monitor and supervise C/Y. As educators, we encourage parents to learn about the unlimited benefits of using technology as well as warn parents about Mobile Apps lurking dangers online. Parents need to know the Mobile Apps C/Y are using or areas they are capable of accessing online. In USA and in the World at large, change has become our only constant companion. So by the time you master these Mobile Apps, new ones will be added…in other words, when it comes to technology you will be working at least 2 years behind your C/Y. Relax! If you purpose to keep in step. 

Learn and Keep Learning:

Many times I write about how our son, Waiyaki Njoroge-RIP, became my teacher. He taught me how to use the internet with ease. I was a graduate student and he was in the 6th Grade. I signed up for a class at the University, which he made me drop. He said, why should you pay that much money for what I can teach you for $10. Now that was a deal for a lifetime. By the time he was in 8th Grade, alongside some of his friends, there was not a single computer class left for them to take in High School. They were known as computer geeks. Waiyaki enrolled to take classes at Moultrie Technical College (MTC)  in CISCO systems. Tech savvy 9th Graders and their parents, mostly mothers dared the county school Board to provide a Bus to take them to College. The school was reluctant. Mothers then decided to demonstrate at the school. Word got out about the intended commotion. These mothers were active participants in the Parent Teachers Association. Mothers didn’t need to demonstrate, the school accepted to offer a bus to take the computer geeks to MTC. Before going too far,  I asked Kaki, now what is this CISCO thing you are learning? He gave me a basic yet simple answer. “The System that will be controlling all that we do from space. Then he proceeded to lecture me a little. He told me, Mom keep learning. Keep up with technology and don’t allow yourself to be left behind. It is the wave of the future.” To force me to change and accept the future, one day I arrived home from work. I could not find any Computer disc. He had ordered a new mother board taken the system down and announced, from now on, we will use CDs. I went to hide my frustration in my room. I cried over the “stupid computer technology.”  That was the technology lag between digital immigrant mother and her digital native son. Our computer was not just a fun desktop. It was used for work and ministry. This is about the time we split the evening hours of how long each one of us would work at the computer. We also agreed he would not change the system without warning me. Soon after that we moved from having One computer to 2.  Can a child know more than their parents? I believe yes in some things. Waiyaki was a Talented and Gifted child who grew up in what was then called the 21st Century Classroom in TN. Also TN was the first State to have schools wired. Those days, I used to visit Kaki’s classrooms (Kindergarten to 3rd Grade) and marvel at the wonders of technology. To keep the students at par with the intended internet curriculum of the future, for the first time in a public school, Pond Gap Elementary kept the students in this one class moving up each grade with the same teacher. His teacher was this young computer genius called Mrs. Hickman-RIP.  The class had a lot of International students too. Today in the USA there is no excuse not to learn how to use technology. Let us make use of today’s knowledge because it is at our finger tips. Instead of drilling on the dirt, digital natives drill on tablets.

                        “Keep up with technology and don’t allow yourself to be left behind. It is the wave of the future.” by Waiyaki Njoroge. 

It is your turn. The following is a list of some Mobile Apps you need to be aware of as a you parent digital C/Y. They can be dangerous when used by C/Y.

1. Ask.Me/Ask Anonymous questions to strangers

2. Badoo/Dating-Location based

3.Bumble/Requires women/females to make the first contact

4. Calculator/Hide photos/videos from Browse history

5. Grinder/Mostly LGBTQ Community

6. Holla/Meet people in just seconds

7.Hot or Not/Rate profiles/Chat with strangers in the area or hook up

8. Kik/By pass traditional text message features. Has unlimited access to anyone

9. Live.Me/Live Streaming

10. Meet Me/Connect people based on location

11.Skout/Location based dating App

12.Snapchat//See and share and locate photos, etc.,

13.TikTok/Kids create and share short videos

14. Tinder/Meet someone new/Date or instant match.

14.YouTube/Create an individual channel and invite whoever to subscribe

15. WhatsApp/Shares Photos/Can Call/video Call and always encourages meeting in person

16. Whisper/Share secrets with strangers/shares location

17. Facebook/A favorite of parents and grandparents. Live streaming, Posting of messages and photos…Except a good number of young adults have moved important stuff they don’t want you to know to other Apps.The above list has been simplified.  There are more Mobile Apps and watch out for new ones. The list doesn’t even include Twitter. You will say a person has to be 18 years to get on some of these Apps. Who is to say and who is to know? Do you know what your child/youth did this summer? Read Article No. 1 by Mary Kiriba about monitoring and supervising C/Y online.

Almost all these Mobile Apps have some things in common that should concern adults and force parents to check what C/Y are doing Online. For example; They have limited privacy, they share with strangers, they share specific location (your address), they share personal identifying information (name, address…), they can be used for cyber bullying, or used by those who Troll children/youth in social media, they share messages, photos, videos, phone calls and video calls. They are used in real time from the palm of their hands. Remind your C/Y that if a photo or video can be shared Online, no matter how short the duration, it can also be downloaded by strangers.

Put Parental Controls: Help your C/Y to navigate the web with care.  Ask your Internet provider for help. Be actively engaged and know what C/Y are doing Online. You have bought them these devices. Don’t allow your parental authority to be replaced by devices. It is your responsibility to monitor and supervise their activities. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he  will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Training takes time. Be consistent and persistent. Your reward will be great. When you look,back at your C/Y life, you will not regret or wish for a “Do Over.” Am praying with you without stopping for the ultimate success of Children/Youth in USA Diaspora. “Failure is not an option for us. We gonna make it. We just have to”/

Resources for Parents/C/Y-School, Local Dept.of health, Local Law enforcement, Public Library, Online Resources.

Used/Online information and some personal knowledge of the issues for Z-Generation. For your own record access a more detailed list of these Apps 

from 10 News/ Dated September 5, 2019. As shared by Law Enforcement to remind parents about potentially dangerous apps.

Or Ask the author of this article. Be sure to watch out for Workshops on Digital Parenting in your community/Specifically prepared by the author for Diaspora Community in USA/Article written for Kenya Parents in USA/Wednesday 10-02-2019.

What Next? Keep reading our Parents corner with Rev. Wambui

Senior Columnist

Kenyan Parents In USA


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