THE BLOG

Resolve to Be a Tech Superstar In 2016

01/05/2016 03:34 pm ET | Updated Jan 05, 2016
  • Diana Graber Co-founder, CyberWise.org: No Grownup Left Behind! and Founder, CyberCivics.com

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If you still get nostalgic for the days before technology, get over it. It's 2016 and there's no turning back the hands of time. We are two generations into the Digital Age... the youngest "Millennials" (the generation that grew up with the Internet) are now young adults, and the generation just behind them ("Post-Millennials," for lack of a better name) can't remember life before the mobile phone.

So it's high time to get with the program and resolve to be a tech superstar. This is easy if you follow these simple tips:

  1. Never Ever Say, "I'm Not Very Techy" Again. Technology is ubiquitous, so telling people you're "not very techy" is like saying you don't breath air. Chances are you have "Googled," heard Siri give directions, answered a ringing cellphone, and even enjoyed numerous cat videos on Facebook. Embrace the fact that you live in a technologically-enhanced world.
  2. Remember that Social Skills Are Digital Skills. The other reason that saying you are "not very techy" is disingenuous is because the most important tech skills are social and emotional skills. Here's why: It's easy to learn how to download an app, send group text messages, and even give Snapchat a fake birthdate (kids do it all the time without our help), it's much harder to know how to use technology safely and wisely. So when you go online, tap into the wisdom you've stored up over many years of being a human being on this planet and be kind, respectful and considerate in everything you say and do online. Remember to share your wisdom with a nearby kid, they need your help becoming good citizens, online and off.
  3. Use Technology To Learn About Technology. Traditional methods of learning, like sitting in a physical classroom and listening to a lecture delivered by a single instructor, have been supplanted by something entirely more accessible and personalized -- online learning -- so take advantage of it. The number of tech courses at your fingertips is simply mind-boggling. Check out Lynda.com or Udacity, and be sure not to miss one of the best for beginners, Techboomers. You can find online courses on everything from how to use the most popular websites to how to design your own website.
  4. Be a Super Role Model. Once you get started with tech, it's hard to stop...there's just so much good stuff online. Plus, technology use can activate the reward center of the brain, providing it with the same shot of dopamine it gets from food, exercise, and sex. The reward is amplified by using social media; it turns out the brain loves those "likes." So as hard as it may be, practice walking away from tech now and then. There may be a young person watching who will learn his or her online behavior by watching yours.
  5. It's Good To Be Curious. Research shows that the more curious you are, the more likely you are to live longer. So extend your life by learning about some of the new social apps that kids use, like Instagram and Snapchat, find out what games they're playing online, or visit Pinterest to discover new recipes. If any of this sounds too daunting, grab the nearest tween or teen and ask questions. Chances are you will both have something to learn from the other. If you don't have kid nearby, you can learn everything you need to know about online kids by watching the 60 second video below.

It's important to make this the year to become a tech superstar, because only when we all master technology, will it stop mastering us.

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