A lot of parents claim they give their kids devices so they can develop and keep their technology skills sharp. If we are not intentional about directing HOW they use this technology, they are likely to leave our homes with virtually ZERO actual marketable computer skills.
I’m an HR Director and my team hires entry-level employees on a daily basis. We hire so many young 20’s who are downright addicted to their phones yet don’t know the absolute basics of using technology and struggle with making and receiving phone calls. The anxiety levels these ‘kids’ (new hires) face when they encounter even small amounts of conflict or gray areas on a customer call can be debilitating for so many of them.
As the mom of a teenaged son, I thought I’d share some practical ways to prepare your kids for real-life use of technology needed for ‘adulting.’
1) Have them conduct basic internet research for you… Examples: Have them research the best way to kill weeds or find the cheapest price for fence replacement, etc. Have them find the cheapest rental car and hotel for your vacation. Talk to them about how reservations and insurance work and HAVE THEM CALL to reserve it. Let them fumble and make mistakes on the call while you’re there to coach and encourage them. If they mess up, who cares? They need to practice while the stakes are low.
2) Have them call to pay any medical bills that come in. Show them where to find the Date of Service and Invoice #. Sit with them and coach and encourage them through the call. Tell them what they did right/wrong and watch their confidence grow.
3) Have them call tech support any time something in the home goes down – internet, cable, water, A/C, etc. Let them walk through the steps for the internet to come back on. These are skills they need when on their own!
4) Have them call to schedule their own haircuts, doctor and dentist appointments, and dog grooming appointments. Again, if they sound dumb or forget to say something or ask something, who cares? If they learned something, it was a success!
5) Have them renew your Driver’s License or voter registration online and take ownership of the Registration/Inspection process. They can practice on yours so they know exactly what to do when it’s their turn.
6) Have them complete your online Curbside Pickup grocery order. They can look in the pantry and add items your family needs and you can revise when they’re done. This season, they can own this and have it completed every Friday night (for example). Give them a weekly budget. This will teach them how much groceries actually cost. Meeting deadlines and budget limitations are real-life job skills. Maybe one day per week, they can’t use their phones until this is done.
7) Have them research a recipe, add those ingredients to the curbside pickup cart (see above), and make them responsible for cooking dinner one night per week. These are skills they need before they launch into the real world so they might as well learn now. Trust me, they’ll spend way more time than you think looking for the perfect recipe.
8) Teach them how to use Microsoft Excel! They can use it to make a packing list for your next vacation. Ask them to color code items for each person and have them pack their own bags. Another Excel idea is making and keeping a personal budget or keeping a schedule of activities they want to do this summer. Have them track income of their lawn-mowing job or summer camp fundraising. When the use of technology is practical, they’ll learn it twice as fast and it will stick!
9) Have them make Powerpoint presentations for grandma’s birthday or Father’s Day, etc. You’ll be surprised how much time they’ll put into these and how quickly they learn how to use animation and infographics. One of my favorite Mother’s Day memories includes watching a funny slideshow created for me by my 8-year-old. I once made my kids create a PowerPoint apology to me for sneaking food upstairs. It was hysterical and silly and they spent all day on it. They have some serious PowerPoint presentation skills because of ‘punishments’ like these.
My point is, if our kids have time for HOURS of Snapchat or Instagram, they have time to learn marketable skills on these same laptops and devices. As they become more and more confident in these ‘adulting’ skills, the less anxiety they’ll experience when they’re on their own and are expected to learn them all at once. Ease them into these experiences while you’re there to encourage and equip them.
Side benefit: Encouraging technology use that CREATES and CONTRIBUTES to the family connection is critical to combat depression and hopelessness. When they know their parents are counting on them as a critical part of what makes the family work, it increases their sense of purpose and belonging.
My boys (14 and 10) can confidently navigate self-checkout, withdraw cash from an ATM, pump gas, make phone calls with confidence, order groceries, manage an Excel budget, order an Uber…mainly because their #HRmom refuses to send them into the workforce without basic skills.”