GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARENTS/GUARDIANS
Please note that these are recommendations provided by Brookwood School and based on research that is designed to equip parents with guidelines for online and smartphone safety. However, adherence to the recommendations is, of course, to be determined by each individual family.
1. Install parental control software (PCS) on all Internet-capable devices routinely used by your children. While parental control software is no panacea nor perfect, it will help you monitor your children's use and set appropriate limits. PCS should be installed on desktops, laptops, iPads, tablets, smartphones and even the iPod Touch. As children graduate into high school you can decide when is an appropriate time to move or remove these boundaries.
2. Children should not have administrative privileges or permission to install software on computers or i-devices. Parents need to evaluate and control the software their children wish to install on their devices. Parents should advise their children not to click on Ads or respond to online surveys or quizzes such as the “IQ quiz.” This is especially true about pop-ups and banner ads that tell them they have “won” something or telling them that a message is waiting for them to respond to. Many of these are adware at best and some are malicious and target children in order to install malware on devices.
3. A growing body of research has now demonstrated that too much screen time can have a negative impact on a variety of developing skills in children as well as on the brain development in most extreme cases of screen/gaming addiction. Set limits to how much to how much time your children spend in front of screens, including and especially smartphones! Visit: Undigitize.me - Resources for dealing with smartphone addiction
4. Severely limit the use of technology with children under the age of six. There is no research that shows children who are exposed to technology earlier in life show better educational outcomes than technology-free kids. For example, very young children should be told that "mommy's phone is not a toy and is only for big children and adults."
5. The greatest risks by far for children using technology come through the use of social media, smartphones and lack of supervision. Though it may be nearly impossible to monitor all aspects of a child's technology use, all experts in this area agree that making the effort to monitor, set limits and engage your children in conversations about technology issues/concerns will lower their risks using technology. (Listen to a podcast conversation with Tom Ashbrook's On Point when he tried to answer the question "When Should Your Kids Get Smartphones? Some Say Wait Until 8th Grade" - posted 12/3/2017) Once you do decide to give your child a smartphone, follow the suggestions made in this excellent 5-minute video posted 2/23/18 by Vox titled "It's not you. Phones are designed to be addicting." It contains several excellent suggestions to help us lower our addiction to smartphones based on psychology and research.
6. Through Middle School (grade 8), parents should have and use all passwords to their children's online and smartphone accounts. This is especially true for social media. This is so important that it should be one of those "non-negotiables." Inform your child that you will periodically log in as him or her to check on their digital life. Suggest that he or she tell their friends as well.
7. Set a time each evening when your child is expected to be off of computers and the Internet, including iPads, smartphones and gaming devices. Many parents now collect these devices at night and keep them until morning. This is especially important if you have a sense that your child spends too much time connected to his/her smartphone and social media.
8. As your child grows and you begin to allow him or her to play online interactive games using flash-based game sites or gaming consoles, severely limit the chat feature (audio or text), including in Minecraft, unless you and your child know the other player in person. A lot of verbal abuse and adult language occurs through the chat feature of games played across the Internet. Also, do not allow your children to play video games rated for much older, more mature ages. Be familiar with the gaming rating system and understand that game-producers RATE THEIR OWN GAMES. Some have been found to under-rate them for younger audiences. Visit CommonSenseMedia.org for balanced reviews of media for kids.
How Can Parents Send the Right Messages to Their Children
These are some of the things we advise your children about using the Internet and smartphones:
1. Do not respond to online harassment or meanness; tell an adult. Get out/offline.
2. Be an upstander! If you see meanness online, try to stop it. If you are concerned that you may be the next target, then private message the person being targeted and advise him or her to get offline and you are doing the same. Tell him or her that he or she doesn't deserve to be treated like that.
3. Do not download and install any software or apps without a parent’s permission.
4. Do not communicate with strangers online. Do not friend strangers and do not allow strangers to "follow" you.
5. Do not share your password with anyone, except your parents.
6. There is no such thing as “delete,” and there is NO privacy online
7. Deception online is commonplace and easy. Be skeptical regarding the online world!
Technology is changing so rapidly that thoughtful consideration of the needs of children cannot possibly keep up. It is OK to say NO and to change the rules as circumstances warrant. In fact, it is important to change the rules due to the rapid changes in technology. And finally, just because “they can” doesn’t mean “they should.” No one, including the U.S. government, marketers, or advertizers are looking out for their emotional well-being or what is healthy, age-appropriate or inline with your family values.
Specific Issues and Concerns About: