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“All logic students are required to have a laptop”

“All logic students are required to have a laptop”

It’s a phrase that makes new 6th grade students rejoice and many 6th grade parents fearful, which are both very valid emotions.  This newfound freedom for many of our 6th graders is exciting.  They have seen mom and dad on their devices for years and this milestone of getting their own laptop feels like a step in that direction.  It’s also a time many parents allow their children to have a cell phone for the first time.  Parents are fearful as they know this freedom can also cause trouble.  Here are some tips when it comes to laptops and other devices and keeping our children safe.

  1. 1. Monitor their usage.  As parents, we have to teach our children how to use these devices in a healthy manner before they are allowed to make those decisions on their own.  We would not allow our child to get a driver’s license without practicing for many hours in the car with them.  The same applies for technology.  Monitoring usage for several years is vital.  You can search “parental controls” on your child’s laptop and set them up.  Once you set up parental controls you can: block websites with unhealthy/adult content, keep track of searches and save login details, limit the time spent on the computer, ensure private information stays private, allow different users and set up different restrictions for each, and monitor your child’s activity anytime by using your mobile phone. Downloading apps like Bark, Circle, Boomerang, Qustodio, Norton and others help alert you to any possible issues.  It’s also very important to also limit the amount of time spent on screens each day.  
  2. 2. Be wise in your choices.  Many parents feel their logic student could benefit from a cell phone for safety or convenience reasons and feel a smartphone is the only option.  Know that a standard phone that allows calls/texts or phones like Gabb Wireless are also available so they can be connected without the struggles of social media and other internet capabilities.  These are great first steps and then once they learn healthy ways of using their device they could possibly move up to a smart phone in Rhetoric School. 
  3. 3. Teach them how to best use their devices.  Talk to them about internet safety and things to avoid. Teach them social norms when it comes to technology. For example, talk to them about what to do if they are texting a friend multiple times who is not responding back or what to do if someone is being unkind through text or on social media. Talk to them if you notice unhealthy boundaries, usage, or improper etiquette.  Last but not least, lead in displaying healthy boundaries yourself. Have a no technology rule at dinner time that everyone sticks to (mom and dad too!) so you can be engaged in conversation.
  4. 4. If you allow them to have social media (and it’s perfectly ok and recommended to say no to this!) monitor their account.  Note that there are ways to message on pretty much any app (Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc)  Make it a rule that you are allowed to follow them on social media.  Research has shown the negative effects of social media for all, adults included, but it is even more pronounced in teens.  Again, feel free to say no or set some very healthy boundaries when it comes to social media.  
  5. 5. Be very careful on the apps they are allowed to download.  Many parents love apps that are free, but they come at a cost.  This cost is that the developers of the app allow advertisements to provide their funding.  These advertisements are often things you would prefer your student not see.  Research shows the younger people get hooked on explicit images, the better it is for this industry.  You don’t want your child to stumble onto something innocently and then it becomes a problem.  It is recommended to only have apps you have paid for so you can avoid this.  
  6. 6. No devices in bedrooms or at night.  It is easier to monitor usage when they keep and use their devices in main living spaces.  Make it a family norm for all devices (phones, laptops, watches) be left in the kitchen to charge overnight.  Sleep is so important and this will help them get quality rest that is needed to learn and excel in school.  It also allows you a daily time to monitor the device.  Let them know you will do this and that it’s part of the agreement in order to keep them safe. If you see something concerning, discuss it with them calmly and let them know you are there to help.  

In summary, devices can make life easier but can also cause a lot of stress and heartache.  It is next to impossible to live in the world today without utilizing devices.  The key is in having healthy boundaries and in using them wisely.  Encourage your children to spend time with their friends face to face and not just on a device. Learning social cues is a vital step in development and this is often missed when communicating through devices.  Allow them to invite friends over to hang out in person.  Spend time together as a family outside.  Consider having screen free Sundays to worship, rest and reboot before the week begins.  Help them to experience the joys in life that we can often miss when tethered to our devices.  

We have an amazing opportunity coming up in November.  The organization Parents Who Fight is coming back again this year to help continue to educate us on how to keep our children safe online and how to best “fight” for our kids. Please put November 14th at 6:45 PM on your calendar and make plans to attend.  You don’t want to miss it!  Parents Who Fight will then meet with students the following day.