Currently, a conversation about screen time is occurring on my area listserv. It’s interesting to read various points of view. Some people feel that various apps designed to limit screen time and other digital activities are the way to go. Others point to need to be hands-on about contracts, agreements, and digital rules of the road. Almost everyone seems to be frustrated about defining the line between schoolwork and recreational screen times. Twenty-first Century digital parenting never lacks for challenges!
Probably no device has become as frustrating for teachers as the smartphone. Many educators, whether they teach in middle school, high school, or college express a sense of frustration about the amount of time their students spend glancing down at their mobile phones when they are supposed to be paying attention to what is going on in the classroom
Administrators at San Mateo High School, about 20 miles away from San Francisco, have decided that student phones will be locked up during school hours. At the start of the day students insert their devices into a pouch that closes with a school lock. The kids keep the bags with them, and at the end of the academic day, the administrators unlock them.
The goal of this school’s policy is to decrease the student distraction and to stop students’ habit of looking down at their phones every few minutes. The above link includes an interesting NBC news story.
It will be interesting to see if other schools develop similar policies.
When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with one word. MODERATION. The sign sat for years, somewhat incongruously, in our living room, so it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, or entering and leaving the house. It was also perfectly placed for the times when my parents’ college students came over to the house for extra study help.
Dad’s goal was for us to think, as often as possible, about self-regulating and managing our daily activities, whether we were engaged in a favorite or a not-so-favorite endeavor.
In today’s hyper-connected world, understanding the importance of moderation is a critical skill. We all — adults and children — live fast-paced 21st-Century lives that center on the media and our digital devices. Thus everyone needs to know how to hit the pause button, disengage, and refocus attention elsewhere.
Common Sense Media has, for years, posted this excellent image-sharing resource, and it’s as timely today as it was when it was first published. The infographic posits a series of questions for 21st Century middle and high school kids to consider before deciding to share a photo on a digital device.
Several years ago I uploaded a post, Advice from Digital Kids to Parents, including some of the thoughts that kids in grades 3-6 shared with me about adults’ digital activities. My students often commented that it was unfair when parents asked their kids to sign a digital life contract or agreement, because adults then proceeded to break many of the common sense rules.
The comments of my former students ring true today, especially when I see parents and kids together on a walk or at the park for a fair amount of time and parents look down most of the time at their phones.
Despite spending years working at Microsoft, Gates describes her amazement at the pace of change and the ways that digital activities have taken over, in different ways, the lives of her children. She compares and contrasts her older child’s technology experiences with the increased access of her younger daughter. And she thinks about and shares a range of resources to help parents understand more about digital wellness and how to raise children who understand the digital world where they live.
Are you planning to purchase a new iPhone for a digital kid your family?
If so, check out a recently published article, How to Secure Your Kid’s iPhone, aimed at parents who want to administer and set up controls on the iPhones that their 21st Century children will be using. The piece in PC Magazine is chock full of suggestions, covering topics such as setting up restrictions, making family sharing groups, choosing passwords, preserving privacy, choosing a browser, turning various phone features on (and off) and much, much more.
Written by Eric Griffith, the July 2017 article, which includes plenty of links to other information, is a must-read for any parents who purchase or plans to purchase a new iPhone to give to a young family member.
And after setting up your child’s iPhone, don’t forget that your work is just beginning. c Become a mentor for your child and strike up regular conversations about civility, digital wellness and citizenship.