Young people today are socially connected like no other generation. Our students tweet, post, text, Face Time and chat with frequency that is at times mindboggling. With this connectivity comes real challenges for parents, grandparents and teachers – it is more difficult to provide support, guidance and parameters for children. For previous generations, where the primary communications tool, (aside from face-to-face conversations) was the wall-mounted, corded kitchen phone, parents had a convenient way to monitor communications. Parents today must work harder, act smarter and display a commitment to keeping up-to-date with the latest technology. Our kids operate in a “no fear” world. As adults we must adopt an active approach to technology, communications and innovation. We must be active in the lives of our children; we must provide support and guidance. This three part series is designed to start conversations so we, working together, can make sure our students are safe, healthy and Ready for Tomorrow.
Keep a list of your child’s passwords and logins
As parents it is essential that you have access to the information your child is sharing with others. It is not a violation of a child’s privacy for Mom and/or Dad to review messages, periodically read emails or access social media accounts. In a best-case scenario, parents can check accounts as support. In a worst case scenario parents need access to accounts in a problematic situation. In either event, parents need to have this information at hand. This can be as simple as an index card kept in a secure location or a digital tool to securely store passwords and account information. I recommend this for emails, social networks, iTunes and all school accounts. As a district, we encourage parents to access and review information provided electronically to students.
Follow Your Children on Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are wonderful communications tools. Personally, I believe Twitter is the easiest, and safest, tool for students to use. It is also the easiest for parents to follow, monitor and adjust the security preferences. Regardless of the platform, parents should actively monitor activity on social media. Yes, “friend” and “follow” your children – stay in contact with both outbound and inbound messages. Sit down with your children and review settings; chances are they know more than you do. Talk with your children about settings, expectations and digital footprints. Colleges and employers often search and review social media platforms for applicants seeking admissions, scholarships or employment. Posting ill-advised information and pictures – at any age – could have future implications. It is important that parents are actively engaged in a child’s digital development. We can’t shelter and hide our children from the digital world – that is an irresponsible approach. We can teach, model and direct our young people to make good choices. Just like parents for centuries have advised children, “think before you speak.” We must advise and teach young people to “think before you post, text or tweet.” We are teaching the same lesson in a different medium. As adults we must model tolerance, respect and good citizenship in our own posts. Let your children friend and follow you as well – you are a role model for your children.