We’re hosting a Cyber Civics™ workshop in partnership with the City of Lakes Waldorf School this August. The Cyber Civics programming was created to educate parents and caretakers on what child development looks like online and to provide space for families to develop their own framework to shape their relationship with technology.
Our CEO, Nancy Lyons, has participated in this curriculum firsthand. She found it to be a valuable way to use her family’s values as a foundation for the role technology plays in their life and guide how they show up online.
We talked to Nancy to get her perspective on why it makes sense for Clockwork to co-host a Cyber Civics workshop and why you should attend:
How does Cyber Civics fit into Clockwork’s approach to technology?
Nancy: I think any client that we’re working with, anybody in our extended community, anybody with kids is really struggling to find a balance with technology in their lives. Parents of children are really struggling to figure out what can they look to, what resources are available to them, to think about how best to guide their children in the right direction when technology is really ubiquitous. We don’t just hand our kids the keys to the car and tell them, “good luck, godspeed” but we give them a mobile device at a really young age. The truth is, they’re letting the whole world into their lives without real instruction, thoughtfulness, or planfulness around how to actually manage that.
What we’re hoping to create is space for parents to be thoughtful about how they want to approach behavior and values online. As a values-based company, we think it makes perfect sense to extend our values to our internet and technology usage and to impart those values on our children.
I also think that it’s important to think about how to help children understand how to extend values to behavior. What kind of person do you want to be? The internet, while it gives you that feeling of distance, is actually not distant at all. The stories you tell about yourself become the stories that are true about yourself — whether you want them to be or not. The internet is forever.
I think another way that Cyber Civics fits well with our approach to technology is because we believe that technology is an enabler, it’s a tool. It shouldn’t be a replacement for real connection and real engagement — it’s a way to enhance connection and engagement. I think that’s true whether we’re talking personally or professionally.
We want to make this thinking, this Cyber Civics curriculum, accessible so parents believe that they have some control. I think that the world is feeling a loss of control to technology and just recalibrating can help you regain some of that control and better understand your power in the context of your technology use.
Why did you want to bring this outside the Waldorf community?
Nancy: I attended a workshop and then watched my son participate in the class and the curriculum that they have in Waldorf schools and I recognized that the value translates across all communities. Honestly, there’s not a lot of resources out there for parents to latch on to that aren’t super restrictive.
The thing that I really appreciate about Cyber Civics is it doesn’t just talk about rules that you can make, it talks about the character of a person who uses technology, like how to be thoughtful about your character, about your person, about your value. I think that a lot of people aren’t really thinking about it that way.
There’s technology to lock down screens and we can limit screen time but that’s not really getting to the heart of the issue which is: who do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to show up in the world? The thing that’s interesting about this programming is that it gets beyond the technology to the humanity of it and that’s something that Clockwork has always really tried to do.
Who do you think will benefit from thinking about Cyber Civics and how will they benefit?
Nancy: Well, I think anybody who takes the time to be thoughtful will benefit. You know, we live in a busy, busy culture and all of that is enabled by our technology. When most of us got our first device, we didn’t think about how we were going to use it. Now we share those devices with our families. Sure we can make rules, sure we can use some tools to shut off wifi during dinner or we can take the device away from our kids after an hour. But what’s happening in the context of that hour? That’s what Cyber Civics helps us think about and be considerate of.
I know that there are a lot of parents who feel like this has gotten away from them. They don’t have the time or the space to police and monitor their children online and I want to help them recognize that it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
I also think that like any vice, when you remove it, when you take away devices as a consequence for certain behaviors, it becomes that much more desirable. We want to encourage alternate thinking so that people are engaging their children in active conversations about what it means to be responsible online. What it means to be aware online and how they manage themselves there. We can also be restrictive — I think that it is just another layer that we’re thinking about but it’s not the only layer — and I think that’s important.
So, who do I think will benefit from Cyber Civics? Anybody who’s feeling overwhelmed and confused about what’s happening online. Anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed and confused by the ease and accessibility of the internet and those connections to mobile devices. Anybody who’s feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of managing their children, and the whole world, on their devices. Anyone who hasn’t thought about the kind of behavior we want to empower our children with to act like responsible online citizens. And, anybody who’s looking for a resource to help them develop the guidelines for that behavior. I think Cyber Civics is something that nobody’s thinking about and everybody should think about.