Being tech savvy is more important than ever. While we may be able to skate by with cursory knowledge of computer programs like Excel and Microsoft Word, our kids will be required to have technical skills far beyond what we’ve had to learn. Today’s guest post shares some great tips on how to prepare your kids for jobs in the digital age. Read on!
Thanks to Ron Stefanski for contributing this insightful guest post.
While many of these skills will be learned organically, either in school or simply because kids these days spend more time with technology than we did, there are some particular considerations to keep in mind as we prepare our kids for working in our technological world.
Even young teenagers, especially if they have a special skill, can find remote work if they’re interested in earning a little money on the side. There are plenty of websites that hire freelancers for all sorts of jobs, and if the freelancer is skilled, most people don’t care how old they are!
How to Prepare Your Kids for Jobs in the Digital Age
While it may seem daunting, there are some simple things we can do as parents to prepare our children for jobs in the digital age.
If you notice that your child isn’t learning much in the way of computer skills and technology in school (some schools actively rally against it, assuming that kids learn enough on their own by using their iPads at home) you may want to consider enrolling them in private lessons.
Lots of computer skills are learned on the job or in specialized college courses, so exposing your children to more advanced computer programs in adolescence can give them a head start.
There are tons of freelancers who give lessons, as well as an abundance of online courses. While not all of them will be fun (Excel is notoriously dry when you’re first learning), it’s important for our modern children to have more than a cursory knowledge of computer programming.
You can also tailor these lessons to your child’s interests. For example, if your child is artistic, a course in Photoshop could be both helpful and enjoyable!
Believe it or not, there are even STEM summer camps that offer fun and engaging tech-related activities. This may be an even more palatable option for kids, because they can learn alongside their friends.
Accepting Responsibility & Learning to be Self-Directed
This point is a little less obvious. With so many jobs “going digital”, it’s quite likely that you child will have to work remotely at some point during their career.
While working remotely sounds great on paper (what could be better than working from the couch in our PJs?) there are definitely some challenges to working from home.
People who work from home, without colleagues and without the pressure of your supervisor in the next room, need to learn to be remarkably self-directed and self-sufficient. Without a boss breathing down your neck, it can be hard to find the motivation to get things done, especially at home where there are tons of distractions and, frankly, more fun things to do.
Teaching our children from an early age to take responsibility for their tasks and to do so without tons of oversight is a great way to introduce them to the realities of working independently and remotely.
You can begin teaching them these lessons early on, and in very natural and simple ways.
For example, if you’ve assigned some chores to your child, for example, give them a deadline of when they need to be finished and then don’t remind them. When the deadline comes, go and see if they’ve done what you’ve asked them to do. If they have, great! If not, remind them that you gave them a responsibility and a task and that you trusted them to get it done. Whether or not you dock their allowance or implement other consequences is up to you.
It’s unreasonable to expect our children to work well without being supervised, at least initially, but with time it’s something that they can learn. It doesn’t matter if they are enthusiastic about the task at hand or not. That’s because at home, just like in the workplace, things need to get done on-time, regardless of whether or not we want to do them.
Another consequence of the digital age is that the line between “work life” and “home life” is becoming more and more blurred. With emails and spreadsheets on our phone, many people can work from home just as well as from the office. While this is great, it also creates a dilemma: when to “shut down” for the evening.
While some employers may love it if their employees are responsive and “on call” 24 hours a day, this is not healthy and it’s rarely sustainable. Being reachable 24/7 has its perks, sure, but it also has some pretty serious downsides. In fact, many of us don’t even do it on purpose, we simply answer emails when we hear our phone “ding”.
We want to begin teaching our children from a young age that “home time” and “work time” are two distinct periods of the day, and that while it’s good to be available for emergencies, it’s equally important to set healthy boundaries.
The best way we can teach our children this is by example. While it can be tricky, make a point not to answer work emails or phone calls after a certain time in the evening. You can mimic this “blackout” by requiring that your children stop using their own technological devices after a certain time, say starting around dinner and lasting until bedtime.
This is even easier to demonstrate if you happen to work from home or remotely. Set a work schedule for yourself and stick to it. Your kids will notice!
This is a guest post by Ron Stefanski.
Ron is the founder of www.JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.