Monday, October 24, 2016

Digital Citizenship: Advice and Resources for Parents

"Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty."

"Digital Citizenship" is a hot topic in education nowadays given the technology that's available to students at a younger and younger age. Mr. Towse (Seisen ICT teacher) and I have prioritized educating our ES girls about the pros and cons (dangers included) of our marvelous digital devices and internet usage. We have hemmed and hawed about what should and should not be a part of the curriculum/pedagogy for Digital Citizenship with the primary goal of keeping our kids safe online.

www.commonsensemedia.org


Common Sense Media offers many fantastic resources for teachers and parents about this subject matter, and Mr. Towse and I plan on incorporating many of their lesson guides into the curriculum. Topics include:

www.commonsensemedia.org
  • Self-image & Identity               
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Digital Footprint & Reputation               
  • Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
  • Information Literacy
  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy & Security
  • Creative Credit and Copyright

To protect our kids, I believe knowledge is power. We have to know what they are up to online and do digital "check-ups" to make sure that privacy settings are appropriate for their age. 

With that being said, I feel as though it's important to remember that......

*Age limits/restrictions for app use (e.g., Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) exist for a reason, not just to annoy our kids which causes them to annoy parents about getting their own accounts. Most of these apps require that children are 13 years old.  Here's what I found on linkedin.com

It's also important to talk to your kids openly about what they're experiencing in the digital world, to include any cyberbullying that's occurring, what's being talked about in chat groups they are a part of, Minecraft "stalkers" and the like. Discuss the consequences of posting pictures and/or videos (e.g., possible criticism, feelings being hurt, etc.) online and how their "digital footprint" is created. 

Paul Rodgers
(taken from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/screen-addiction-is-taking-a-toll-on-children/?_r=0)

Lastly, let's not gloss over the possibility of technology "addiction" and the over-reliance on our devices. When my iPhone was frozen about a month ago, panic immediately set in. I felt suddenly disconnected from the world as if I were stranded. I've worked with kids who are similarly drawn to & almost obsessed with technology in such a way. I've also observed many parents who rely on phones and iPads as babysitters or merely as a tool to keep kids quiet. With that being said, I would encourage you to read this article from the NY Times. 

So, what else can parents do? A few noteworthy suggestions:
  • Create contracts with your kids for internet and/or phone use. A great example can be found here, but there are loads available if you search for them. Just don't forget to STICK TO IT!
  • Use timers to limit the use of phones, computers, iPad's, etc.
  • Know your kids passwords, privacy settings (as previously stated) and do random device "safety" checks. As I often tell kids who complain about the personal invasion: It's NOT your phone if you don't pay the bill! 
  • Take devices away at night....please, please, I'm begging you! Trust me when I tell you that your kids are up late at night texting, using LINE and/or watching videos if you allow them to sleep with their phones in their rooms. 
  • The older kids get, the more ownership they should get. This means that restrictions should change as your child matures and becomes more responsible. I would encourage all parents to have kids help you make the rules surrounding their cell phone and internet use. 
Some more great info can be found on one of my favorite parenting websites, www.ahaparenting.com. Here is an awesome article titled, "The First Cell Phone: Rules for Responsibility." Check it out!

Parents, if you are aware of any cyberbullying or inappropriate internet use by ES students at Seisen, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your child's teacher, Ms. Sandra, Mr. Towse, or I. It's crucial that we are kept in the loop about these matters to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. 

~Ms. Carnright

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