Ever feel like you're the victim of the digital divide? You know, that one where your kids know more about what's going on than you do? Here are 6 sure-fire ways to bridge the gap.
1. Visit an online social networking site. If you have young kids, check out Club Penguin (or the soon-to-be-released Kung Fu Panda game). See what the fuss is all about. Embrace your kids' enthusiasm, but educate yourself about what goes on. Get a Facebook or MySpace page. Ask your kids to show you their pages.
2. Play a video game with your kid. Not one of the really gross ones -- try one of the Guitar Hero games or Beatles Rock Band. Or play a sports game on the Wii, or pass a football with Madden. The best way to keep kids away from violent games is to help them enjoy time with you without having to maim a living soul.
3. Download something your kids will like. Pick a song they've never heard. Then ask them to play something for you that you've never heard. Put in your two cents afterward.
4. Check out YouTube. Your kids have -- probably when they were looking for something funny. So go to the comedy section, find something you like, and surprise them.
5. Invest in a digital video recorder (DVR). All cable systems now have them, and TiVo is always a great option. But whatever method you use, take control of the TV this year. Record what you like, create your own channels (like TiVo's KidZone), fast forward through the ads, and skip the shows that really make you wonder about the fate of humankind.
6. Learn how to manage your kids' digital lives. For your texting tweens and teens, find a phone plan that includes endless texting (but draw some rules around what gets texted and when). Check in on where your kids are going online -- look at browser histories, set appropriate age filters, and check out the parental controls. Teach your kids the basics of safe searching (Google has a safe-search setting), and give them a digital code of conduct. Don't let them figure it all out by themselves.