There is no question that the reach and capacity of our digital world can be alarming. While our natural inclination might be to turn away or ignore these challenges, the internet and our own connectivity continues to grow. Our students will operate in an increasingly accessible digital world, and we need to prepare them for success and safety in online spaces. Click below to see Amanda Asbell, Director of Academic Technology for Lower School, discussing digital citizenship at St. George's.
At St. George’s, we keep this in check by nurturing good digital citizenship in our students, providing parent education opportunities and regularly reviewing our internal safety protocols and practices. For both parents and school personnel, the safety of our students is always of utmost concern. While the possibilities can be overwhelming, remember that knowledge about digital spaces, coupled with certain concrete actions and solutions, allows parents and students to make smart online decisions.
Recently, internet challenges have become popular – even with our younger students. These challenges can bring awareness to important causes like the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge." They can also be damaging, such as the recent “Momo Challenge,” even when it is later revealed to be a hoax. Common Sense Media addressed such challenges across the internet in this article HERE.
When considering how to respond to digital trends, we encourage parents to become knowledgeable and communicative participants in their family’s digital spaces. We want to be a partner, as our teachers, staff and administrators are always available for further discussion. Our mutual goal is to continue building good digital citizenship in our school community.
Have honest and open conversations with your children about what they are doing and who they are talking to online. Research the shows and content channels before you allow your children to start viewing. If something troublesome comes up, don’t ignore the topic. Be sure to talk about it with your child to communicate essential messages about why certain content isn’t appropriate.
Set communication guidelines that work for your family and are appropriate for your child. For example, if a person has never been invited to your house, or you don’t see them at least once a week, don’t “friend” them or chat with them on social media.
Know the apps your children are using and the content they’re watching. They do not have a right to privacy at this age. As the parent, you have the right to know what they are doing at all times on their devices. Check their devices regularly and have access to all their usernames and passwords until they are 18. Another suggestion for remaining aware of what is on your child’s phone is to have a shared family account for app purchases.
Consider keeping all devices in a common area, like the kitchen or den, where you can see and hear what your child is viewing. This prevents technology happening “behind closed doors.” Also, store and keep devices overnight in the parents’ room.
Social media sites and text apps have age restrictions. If your child does not meet an age restriction, he or she should not own a social media account or have a texting app. This includes but is not limited to Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat and What’s App.
Enact automatic restrictions. While these filters are not always comprehensive, they do serve as a first line of defense in preventing inappropriate content from reaching your child.
Practice disconnection. Many internet providers now allow device deactivation that can be used to disconnect your child’s internet access for a period of time. This still allows them to use the device’s functionality without having internet access.
IN THIS SECTION