Friday, January 6, 2017

Have you looked at an iPad lately, a message to all stakeholders.

Kids Need Adult Guidance with Tech

Handing a student a powerful, connected device (a cell phone or iPad) requires some adult supervision, monitoring, and educating. Whether the classroom teachers, or parents and guardians, it is important to help our students navigate the world with these devices in their hands. Add to that the constant, ever-changing world of technology, it can be hard for anybody to stay in front of tech use to best help students make the right choices. Some of the suggestions below are ways that adults can actively engage students in the discussion about how they are using devices.

Spot Check Photos
Photos and videos are now a part of daily life. Young adults can be seen snapping selfies left and right, and they use the photos as a means of communicating with the outside world. Thanks to the ease of having a camera with you at all times in the form of a mobile device, taking pictures of the food we eat, the things we see, and people we interact with is commonplace. As we see in the news too commonly, the “selfie” culture is not always based on such innocent subjects. Students can be careless, even reckless, with with images and videos. Savvy parents and teachers should consider spot checking the Photos app on mobile devices.  Further, kids should KNOW you are going to be checking the app. Just the “threat” of being discovered might be enough to make students think twice before taking inappropriate photos and videos.

Talk About Apps
Mobile devices make our lives more efficient. The apps that exist intend to fulfill a need in that same way. Apps can help us study, learn, create, publish, read -- all beneficial to users. At the same time, apps provide an outlet for distraction and downtime (hello Candy Crush). Look and their devices and talk to kids about the apps that they have installed -- this is another area to check. Some apps can be distracting (such as games and risky-social media apps). Some can be harmful, such as bullying that arises from its use. Do your research on the apps that you are not familiar with. What do the apps do? Do you feel they are needed or appropriate. If not, remove them and explain to your kids the reasons why.

Dig Into Web History
The world wide web is exactly that -- the vast unknown. We have information at our fingertips at all times and cannot imagine a world much different. The phrase “Google it” can be heard daily. Web surfing can quench the inquisitive side in all of us, but with great power comes great responsibility.

Web filtering while on school grounds can prevent students from stumbling upon things that they should not. However, what happens off grounds? Are filters in place at home? How can we keep our kids safe from all that exists in the world? Occasional monitoring of web history can give you an eye into what conversations may need to be had with your student. And if you are concerned about what you find, it is the time to have the adult conversation with kids about appropriate web searching.

Listen/Watch for Student Communication Apps/Tools
A fundamental truth exists no matter when you grow up or what tools you have available to you:  We need to communicate. This is particularly true for young people forming friendships and relationships with their classmates. In our hyper-connected world, kids and young adults are always looking for the newest, most entertaining ways to share their thoughts. Whether positive or not, they use these tools to connect with peers, and possibly even complete strangers. Listen to kids. What apps do they mention? What apps are up when you look over their shoulder or pass by.  It is impossible to know every app that kids can use to communicate, but because they communicate so often, they leave clues all over for us to pick up on. Keep an eye on what forms of communication are being used, and be confident enough to check in on what they are sharing, and with whom.

Guidance on Spot Checking a Device

This video was designed to show you how to take a look into the device your student uses for school purposes. It may also be applicable to personal devices as well. In any situation, if you feel that there is something of concern, work with your school administration. In addition, there are a variety of resources to help parents and teachers navigate this world and can be found on the Waukesha One Website w1.waukesha.k12.wi.us/