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Technology - Specific Recommendations

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)

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

  • Have non-negotiable expectations for your children’s use of technology, just like other family exptectations.
  • Technology use should be  limited and only with direct hands-on supervision for children under 14.  Never use technology as a “babysitter”
  • Teenagers still need limits, boundaries and to hear parent expectations.  Talk about the tough subjects like sexting, cyberbullying, nastiness of anonymous communication and addictive quality of some technology.  Also, inform them that a child's/teen's brain is not the same as an adult brain; it is still developing and more negatively effected  while using technology for long periods of time e.g. addictive impact from dopamine stimulation when  gaming or using social media;  negative impact on the development of empathy; decreasing communication skills about difficult topics because kids increasingly turn to technology to avoid face-to-face conversations on some topics
  • Only allow Internet access in a public location; not behind bedroom doors
  • Remove all phones & gaming devices at night and espeically during group sleepovers. Insist on non-digital playtime with friends.
  • Explain that the word “delete” doesn’t exist online; nothing is private online (Not even Snapchat.)
  • Teach a child that the only chance to avoid mistakes online is BEFORE he/she clicks, posts or sends.
  • Their emotional & developmental health is more important than their “fun time” using powerful technologies
  • Create Technology-free zones/times e.g. Dinner time, sporting events, performances, family fun time (Parents should respect these tech-free zones/times as well!)
  • Have a "basket rule."  Collect all iPads/tablets, iPod Touches and cell phones at the door when friends come over –especially for a sleep-over!
  • When you are upset with someone, hurt or angry, never use technology (chat/text/post) to try to resolve the conflict or hurt; call the person (voice/video chat) or better yet… speak to him or her in person
  • Insist that your child create, explore, and play without the use of technology --and outside!
  • Model good technology behavior for your children;  your smartphone is for ADULT use only and never given to young children to play with
     

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.

Additional Pages:
Lastest Research: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-latest-research
Technology Contracts for Kids:
http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-contracts-kids

Specific Issues and Concerns About:

            Social Media: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-social-media
            Smartphones: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-smartphones
            Video Games:  http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-video-games

What You Might Say To Your Child:  http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-what-tell-your-child

Additional Related Resources: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-resources