Vail Daily column: Helping kids thrive in the digital age | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Helping kids thrive in the digital age

Have you ever read the story about the butterfly who struggled its way through the cocoon only to be helped by a well intentioned and concerned boy with some scissors? After the boy cut the cocoon open to help it out, the butterfly's wings never developed properly and was unable to fly. The boy's actions disrupted the struggle that needed to occur in order for the butterfly to succeed.

That story, read by Beth Cooney, a teacher at Edwards Elementary, was one of the highlights of our recent Eat Chat Parent session (Sept. 22), "Landing the Helicopter: How to Give Your Child Healthy Space Child In and Out of School."

Eagle River Youth Coalition would like to thank Beth along with Katie Jarnot, principal at Eagle Valley Middle School, and Bob Bandoni, executive director of Students Shoulder to Shoulder School of Global Citizenship, for sharing their expertise with humor and great wisdom. And thank you to all the attendees who joined us and gained new parenting skills.

For those who missed it, here are some key takeaways:

• Be a good role model. How you speak is how your children will speak.

• Character virtues should be the center of a parent's concern vs. accomplishments. Is your child honest, responsible, fair, respectful, resilient, responsible, compassionate and morally courageous? This should be the basis of a lifetime conversation with your child.

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• It's OK if your child makes mistakes. They will be stronger later as a result of you not stepping in to help.

• Assume the best about your child's teachers. They live by the holy trinity of parent education: "I know your kid. I care about your kid. I want what is best for your kid."

Eat Chat Parent, a program offered by the Eagle River Youth Coalition, is designed to bring important school age parenting issues to the forefront, share expert advice and offer conversation to help parents thrive as well as guide today's youth into tomorrow's leaders. It's a free series that offers a delicious dinner, childcare (thanks to YouthPower365) and live Spanish translation. EcoTV18, Eagle County's community television station, will be recording each session. Eagle River Youth Coalition urges you to take the time to attend at least one session this school year.

The next Eat Chat Parent session, Oct. 20 at Homestake Peak School, will show the documentary "Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age." The mystique of youth who are obsessed with the latest digital apps is a tricky and delicate subject that parents struggle with on a daily basis. How much screen time is too much? Should I monitor my child's phone? What boundaries should I establish without infringing on my child's independence? What is a snap streak and why does my kid care so much about it? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen?

If you are unsure how to answer these questions, we hope to see you at the next Eat Chat Parent on Oct. 20. Feel free to bring your child, age 8 or older, as this is a great opportunity to share this important conversation within your family. We will have a brief panel discussion with local experts following the movie. Handouts with educational information about the most recent apps your socially media savvy child is using will also be available (i.e. Snapchat, After School and Instagram Stories).

"Screenagers" is 67 minutes long, so please plan accordingly. RSVP to cjohnson@ eagleyouth.org or call 970-949-9250.

Carol Johnson is community engagement coordinator for the Eagle River Youth Coalition.