Rights, Roles and Responsibilities in a digital society.
As children get older and more technologically savvy, it's critical that parents become even more involved in their online activities. It's important that our students learn to be responsible users of technology, and it's our job as parents and educators to maintain strict guidelines and encourage smart choices.
Technology is a wonderful tool, and it's become absolutely essential for everyone to learn as much as they can about the tools that are availble. Teens today have their favorite websites, along with their own email addresses, and perhaps even their own social networking sites (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) This guide will give you the information and tools you need to help your child succeed - and stay safe.
- Be careful where your computer is located. When you give your child computers of their own that they can use in their own room, you may be relinquishing too much control. Even if you install and use monitoring and filtering software, you're still not completely protected. It's best to have the computer located in the most visible room in your house. Make sure you can see the monitor as you walk by. Touch base with your kids when they're online. Make a point to stop by to chat every 15 minutes or so to be sure they're on task if they're doing homework, or that they're not communicating with strangers or delving into inappropriate content areas.
- Of course, your child will want to use the computer for fun as well as school work, and it's important to encourage their creativity and curiosity. Help your child understand that the rules aren't there to prevent them from having fun, but to keep them safe.
- Middle School students tend to keep secret journals and private diaries. Many of these are now kept online. Stress to your child that personal information (name, address, photo, etc.) isn't information that should be shared publicly. Access their pages (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) regularly. Be sure to read their friends posts to these pages. Check out their friend's pages as well.
- What should you be talking about with your child? Internet safety can be a tough subject to talk about with your teenager, but it's necessary and if you put in the necessary effort now, your job will be easier later.
- Ask your child if they download music. Ask to see and hear their music collection. Learn together the legalities of downloading music from the Internet and make sure they are following the rules.
- Talk with your child about online conversations. Remind them to be careful when talking with someone they don't know, or sending an email to someone they don't know. Personal information should remain private. Even mentioning a school, school colors or team name could lead a stranger to your child's identity.
- Perhaps most important of all, keep the lines of communication open. Make sure your child knows they can come to you if they have questions, or something makes them uncomfortable.
In closing, keep in mind that your student's computer is an extension of the rest of his or her life. They are growing up using technology (computers, Internet, cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc.) and are constantly connected to the world outside your home. This is not a bad thing. However, it can be dangerous, and even illegal, and it's our job to make sure they are informed and responsible users of all the technology that's available.
(The above information is part of a Hewlett-Packard online publication "Technology and your middle school student.")