technology advice

My Best Tech Advice on Back to School

Written on August 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm , by

Did you see me on TV? Hear me on radio? I just got back from a satellite media tour where I talked to more than 20 TV shows and radio stations in three hours. I have a new respect for TV personalities. That’s hard work. The tour was sponsored by Microsoft in a partnership with Family Circle. And it was a thrilling whirlwind for me, including talking nonstop, fabulous hair and makeup, and a team of handlers. (Watch out! I might become a diva!) But there is so much to think about when it comes to buying technology for students that there is simply no way to cover it all in a three-minute TV interview or even in 10 minutes on the radio.

A couple of times, an interviewer asked me a question that was too hard to answer in a sound bite–people were waving at me to keep it short!–and I just had to touch on it and move on. But I have covered so much of this material in various places over the years that it got me thinking that I should pull together some of my favorite bits of back-to-school advice by yours truly so you can quickly go to school on back-to-school tech.

First, there is my Family Circle back-to-school tech story, Old School Meets New Tech from the September issue. Some things got quick mention in that story simply because space was limited. So Microsoft asked me to expand on how I taught my son to use OneNote to take better notes using his smart phone, SkyDrive, and Microsoft Office for their OneNote blog. It’s a great trick, one I use myself for work, that will turn any tech-savvy student into an amazing note-taker.

One interviewer asked me to recommend some educational apps. I choked. I think it may have looked as if I didn’t know of any. But the extreme opposite was true. Hundreds of them swirled around in my brain. There are so many! But no single one, except the OneNote app because I’d just been talking about it, would come out of the swirl and form words. There is a list of them in my Family Circle back-to-school story. And I rounded up a lot of them last year for GreatSchools.org. I look at them all the time. Should I cover this again? Let me know on Twitter and I’ll convince someone to run another story on it.

Several interviewers asked me how to determine what technology to buy for what age. With only a few seconds to answer, I had to give some quick general advice and say, “You know your children best.” That is a huge question! And I elaborated at some length on this pressing problem for parents at GreatSchools.org back when my kids were a couple of years younger. While some of the sites I mentioned there may have changed, the decision making process remains the same. If you feel like your kids know more than you do about tech, I encourage you to read that piece so you can take back the reigns.

Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.”You can find her at GeekGirlfriends.com, as well as here on Momster.com.