The Goal: Creating Caring and Safe Communities
Although the Internet has made tremendous advancements in education possible, it’s also created new pathways to infiltrate educational communities with bullying, sexually explicit content, and highly distracted students.
How do schools handle these technological woes to create caring and safe communities? By partnering with parents and families!
An elementary school counselor told us that she has kids as young as kindergarten bringing smart phones to school, and kids in the third grade trying to friend request her on Instagram and Facebook. She’s seen the problems that come with kids getting on social media too early, or with kids having unrestricted access to the Internet, but lamented that the biggest obstacle she was up against was the parents. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Ultimately, parents and teachers want the same thing—for kids to grow up into confident, healthy people who know how to make wise decisions.
Elementary schools can partner with parents to help reinforce the message of teaching cyber wisdom to kids, and Parents Who Fight can help! We would love to help you plan a parent education night to get the conversation started in your school about what kinds of boundaries kids need with technology.
In addition to getting parents and teachers on the same page, educators also need to be concerned with school policies about personal technology use. Are kids allowed to bring phones on fieldtrips? What about recess? What are the rules and expectations, and how will you train your staff to reinforce them? Thinking through these kinds of issues helps educators stay on top of potential problems before they happen.
We wholeheartedly believe that elementary schools are the best place to talk about dangers online, because there is still time to prevent kids’ exposure to harmful content. It’s also a critical time to train parents to know how to protect their kids when it comes to technology. If you’re an educator in an elementary school setting, don’t miss this crucial window!
About 90% of middle schoolers in America have an internet-enabled mobile device, such as a phone, iPod Touch, or Nintendo DS. 73% percent of 13-year-olds have their own phone, and they are begging for social media accounts, or just flat out creating their own. Since the smart phone boom in 2010, middle school students have been the most eager early-adopters that ever lived. If it’s a mobile device, they want it. As more and more kids enter cyberspace, it is clear that this generation is forging their way in what amounts to the wild wild west.
Middle school years are the battleground years. Now you’re not just fighting to prevent early exposure to things like pornography, pro-suicide social media, self-harm and eating disorders, now you are mitigating the impact of this exposure. By the time these tweens are in high school, they will have been exposed to more destructive media than we could have ever imagined.
Let’s work together to help these tender tweenagers build a foundation of cyber-wisdom that will serve them well as they gain independence in high school and college. Let’s talk about privacy, digital footprints, boundaries and stranger danger. Let’s encourage parents to supervise their students’ mobile technology through great monitoring apps. Find out more about bringing a Parents Who Fight presentation to your school’s parents!
Their healthy futures depend on solid building blocks in these years!
Internet access via smart phone and even school-sponsored mobile technology is the new norm for most high school students in America. High schools have had to get pretty fancy to diminish the amount of distraction this kind of access can bring, utilizing things like geo-fences for blocking anonymous apps like YikYak and a host of social media sites. Of course, kids still figure out ways around these strategies. No matter how hard schools try to stay ahead of their students and limit the distraction and destruction of social media on campus, it can sometimes feel like a losing battle.
In addition to students’ constant connectivity becoming potentially disruptive at times during school hours, it is also changing the social construct of the high school scene in the U.S. In some ways, platforms like Instagram can create positive connections between students who belong to different “groups” and might not otherwise interact in a formal school setting. However, it also can create and magnify conflicts by publicizing hurtful social experiences (i.e. break-ups, not being invited to something, and bullying).
In addition to the social implications, there are emotional health issues as well. Three huge concerns we have for high school students are pornography, sexting, and cyberbullying. These issues can damage kids’ minds and hearts, causing great suffering and consequences that impact their future. Unfortunately, schools can do only so much to help their students avoid these dangerous activities. In most situations, parents are the best line of defense to help teenagers learn the wisdom needed to make different choices online. However, some parents are not engaged on this level, and even diligent parents have had their protective work foiled by a single school bus trip where porn was passed around on someone’s phone.
Schools have a part to play in helping students collectively make better choices online because peer pressure is a key factor in many of the stupid things teenagers tend to do. If you are a high school educator, have you considered hosting a school-wide event to address these issues? (We highly recommend the student presentations put on by Fight The New Drug.)
High school is the final training ground before these students are on their own navigating a very treacherous technological landscape. High school educators can make a huge impact on this generation!