Whenever I'm feeling confident that I'm successfully contributing to raising five children, my 13-year old daughter does something to jolt me back to reality. That the was the case this week as I sat in the car and gently honked the horn as a reminder she was going to be late for dance practice. Eventually, she ran to the car carrying a duffle bag bursting with dance gear in one hand, a pair of shoes in her other, and a chocolate-covered granola bar hanging from her mouth.
On the drive, I remind her that she can't be late for practice. And that's when she tells me the teacher moved practice back half an hour.
"I didn't get that email", I tell her. She laughs.
"What's so funny?"
"Nobody uses email. My teacher just sends us a message on Instagram."
I didn't get the memo.
I had a similar conversation with my son recently. When he doesn't answer his phone, I've had luck on the past reaching him by Skype. Well, until two weeks ago.
"Nobody is using Skype anymore. Everyone moved to Discord."
By "everyone" I assume he means his friends. I didn't get that memo either.
I'm not surprised that my two kids in junior high have adopted different ways of communicating from what I know. The Internet on which I was raised included a healthy dose of email, IRC and newsgroups. I knew my way around the neighborhood, but today I feel as fashionable as a fax machine when I speak to my kids about technology.
It's no wonder that teachers are adopting new approaches for reaching today's kids who have been raised in an age of apps, touchscreens and devices always connected to the internet. When I was their age, writing a report required a visit to the local library. Now, when the state restricts teachers from discussing some topics about human sexuality in health class, the kids pull out their phones and lookup the information while in class. That's exactly how things played out in my daughter's class.
I admire the teachers who make an effort to reach the students where they congregate today. Sending messages over Instagram or Snapchat may seem odd to me, but not to my kids. That's where they spend their time.
I've already learned a lot about products nobody uses anymore, and we're barely through the first week of school.