Kids and Technology with Babak Mostaghimi, Ed.L.D., MPP, Ep #9

Kids and Technology with Babak Mostaghimi, Ed.L.D., MPP, Ep #9

Babak Mostaghimi holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a Master’s of Public Policy from Harvard. He also has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins. He currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education & Student Support for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Babak is uniquely positioned to give us insight into the wild world of technology and how it impacts our kids. In this episode of Dads on Tap, we discuss technology and its impact on the next generation, things parents should be concerned about, and what we can do as dads to stay present and involved. 

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Learn more about Babak and his family [2:35] 
  • A discussion about technology and engaging the next generation [11:33] 
  • Things parents should be concerned about regarding technology [19:42] 
  • How you can advocate for your children in schools [26:38]
  • What dads need to know about kids and social media [33:07] 
  • Babak’s thoughts on daily access to technology [37:30] 
  • How to help your children avoid educational overwhelm [40:33] 
  • What colleges are looking for in potential students [43:22] 
  • Find ways to stay present and be involved [45:55]

Technology and engaging the next generation

Babak’s job is to make sure children are prepared for the rapidly changing future. It’s a fascinating world to live in. How will the way we create change? How will we need to think differently? How do we problem-solve with all of the changes? What skills will our children need to double down on? What won’t kids need to focus on anymore? 

We benefit from technology. Babak believes that we can choose what happens and where we go. AI could be terrible for the world if misused and unregulated. But it can also open up opportunities that we could never have imagined. But we must work with our kids to make sure technology is used in positive ways to bring value to their lives. 

Technology itself isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s how we use it. Sometimes, it builds engagement and interaction. Other times, screen time replaces human interaction. FaceTime with Grandma is a positive experience. But if your child sits on an app or watches TV all day, they lose human connection. 

So how do you balance technology with human connection? Babak shares some great ideas. 

Things parents should be concerned about regarding technology

When young girls are watching an influencer, are they actually happy? Or are they trying to convince viewers that they’re happy to sell a product?

Babak’s son was watching Vietnam War videos on YouTube for an assignment. He started sharing “facts” with his dad that didn’t seem quite right. It opened up a conversation about critical thinking and verifying facts.

You can ask ChatGPT and Bard questions and the AI will generate a response. Most of the questions a child is asked for an essay topic are so common that AI can generate a remarkable answer at any level. We can’t ban technology, so how do we navigate it? 

Just because you can generate an essay no one’s ever seen—and can’t be caught—doesn’t mean that it’s okay. It’s still plagiarism. It doesn’t make you a better thinker.

Be transparent with your kids. Make sure you know what’s allowed within your school system for the use of ChatGPT. When there isn’t guidance, treat it like a source. 

What dads need to know about kids and social media 

The evidence is piling up: social media is bad for our kids. Why? They haven’t built a social identity yet. That means they’re heavily influenced by people who they don’t realize are being paid to influence them. 

That’s when kids engage in unsafe TikTok challenges. It’s when they take and share photos of themselves that they shouldn’t. Kids are being bullied and harassed. Social media will follow you and never go away.

Your kids should never have any privacy on social media. Monitor who they’re friends with, what they’re talking about, etc. Be actively involved. 

Research has shown that the longer you delay your child being on social media, the lower the chance your child will experience anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders. 

Social media is addictive. Phones are addictive. The longer a phone isn’t part of their mental ecosystem, the better they are at regulating themselves. You can set their phones up so that they get a limited amount of screen time. If they hit that limit, they have to request more time from the parent. 

Babak’s thoughts on daily access to technology

The younger your child is, the less access they should have to technology. Kids under the age of two shouldn’t spend time staring at screens, unless it’s something engaging, like FaceTime. 

As a child gets older, the more interaction there is, the better. If technology is being used for school, it’s far different than watching videos. You must be cautious and make sure your child is getting physical exercise and getting out and about in the world. 

If your child seems over-attracted to technology, you know things aren’t balanced. Find a way to help them step away and learn to connect with the world around them versus only with technology. 

We must remember that children need the room and space to play, be themselves, and figure out what they care about. We need them to know that no matter what, we’ve got their back. If and when they fail, we need to be available for them. 

Our kids are far smarter than we are and with the right guidance, they will be able to do far greater things than we can ever imagine. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Learn more about Babak Mostaghimi

Dr. Babak Mostaghimi is a father and educator. He is a family man, Scouting supporter, and backyard chicken farmer. Babak and his wife, Ashley, love engaging with their children in the outdoors and helping them to problem solve and gain life skills through real life experience. 

At work, Babak serves as Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education & Student Support for Gwinnett County Public Schools where he focuses on preparing children for their future through programs focused on early learning and artificial intelligence and everything in between. 

He began his education career as a 5th grade teacher in Shelby, Mississippi, where he was the 2008 District Teacher of the Year and a Mississippi Teacher of the Year Nominee. Babak holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard and a Bachelor’s Degree from Johns Hopkins.

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