These three tenets are the mantra of the middle school parent-tech partnership. Adolescents will always come up with new, wonderfully inventive ways of looking at rules and situations. Thank goodness! Because if they just did the same as we did, the world would never change. As a result of this, it’s impossible to come up with a rule for every situation. I like to come back to these tenets to guide my reactions:
1. Stay Informed
- Use the parent portal
- Grade-level websites for homework calendars
- Policies: MS Tech Handbook, including the Acceptable Use Policy
- Online articles and resources
2. Start the Conversation
- Even a protest is a conversation starter
3. Build a Common Culture
- Setting boundaries on connectivity for all devices
- Set family rules, like all technology used in common spaces
- Model good technology behaviors, like not texting at the dinner table if you don’t want others texting then.
- It’s about trust and respect, not technology
What does this look like in practice?
- Your son wants to use his iPod touch to listen to music to fall asleep at night. You agree, but then begin to notice he’s having trouble getting up in the morning and seems more tired than usual.
- Before you take it away or assume your child is using it all night,
- Stay Informed: What things are possible on an iPod touch other than music? The most important thing is that it is possible to connect to the internet, so might he be messaging with friends or facebooking late? What do other parents do?
- Start the Conversation: Ask him why he might be more tired. Ask him what else he uses his iPod touch for (during any time of day – leave it open). Ask what kind of music is he listening to and maybe listen along.
- Build a Common Culture: What do you do with your technology at night? Do you listen to music to fall asleep? How can we work together to get more restful sleep?
These tenets help me get to the issue before jumping to conclusions. I realize that these may not be straightforward or easy issues, but they are important conversations and life habits to instill in adolescents. We are invested in growing healthy, tech-balanced kids who can eventually manage their devices independently as adults. As your tech coordinator, I am here for you as a resource.
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