Tech Tips for Parents

“[Writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves” – Socrates, The Phaedrus.  Socrates belief was that the best learning came from talking and that writing was a bad thing.  Many of us in education hear the same thing about the use of technology.  Bill Keller, the head of the New York Times, for wrote that technology will make people dumber because we won’t have to think for ourselves — that we are “outsourcing our brains to the cloud”.  Other writers at Gizmodo, take the other side that Socrates was wrong and writing didn’t make us dumber, ergo Twitter and Google won’t make us dumber either.  

The outcome depends a lot on how we use the technology and that is the key to effective use of educational technology.  Teaching with technology is as much about how to use technology as it is about the process of learning.  For too many of my students, parents and ineffective teachers have taken the stance that “kids will figure out the technology”.  This is irresponsible and has lead to many young adults who lack many skills necessary to be successful in the modern world.  “Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty.” @KevinHoneycut

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The fact is no one knows a child better than a parent.  I would like to provide some simple resources and tech tips for parents as their children enter my 8th grade science class.  It is a very complicated time to be a child and parent with technology addiction, screen time, haters, trolls, bullies, social media, body image, violence to name just a few of the parent concerns.

The best parent resource I have found is Common Sense Media.  They have many excellent family guides to help parents get answers to many of their parent concerns.  The needs of children change over time and so many of their recommendations are broken down into different age groups.  They also include help with movies, apps, music, books and other media.

My first recommendation to parents is to not allow kids to sleep with their devices.  I even go so far as to recommend a screen embargo about 30 minutes before going to bed.  This has shown to improve student sleep habits.  I have found that many of my kids have trouble with school because they have poor sleep habits often compounded by night screen time.  They have increased impulsivity, increased irritability, loss of short term memory, and loss of focus.  Add that to the normal adolescent behaviors and you have a situation that is hard for most kids to overcome.

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My second recommendation to parents is to work with their kids to setup some other limits on the use of technology.  We have limits in place at school.  No iPads in the bathrooms.  No iPads at the lunch tables.  In the classroom, there are tech-free times.  I encourage parents to do the same at home.  Establishing good device manners is something we all can benefit from.

The Center Grove Technology Department has pulled together many helpful resources for parents.  “Parenting students who are digital natives can prove to be quite challenging for any parent.  At Center Grove, we understand that learning begins in the home and at times parents may have questions or concerns.  In addition, students will be bringing home iPads in grades 6-12 to extend their learning beyond the school day.”

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