At St. Barnabas Episcopal School, we value the strong partnership that we've built with parents. Our Parent Advisory Council is a huge part of the success of our private school. To show our appreciation, our teachers and staff like to give back by offering educational events geared specifically towards parents.
A big issue that many parents of Pre-K, elementary, and middle-school aged children are dealing with is how to appropriately handle the use of technology and digital devices.
Technology in the learning environment is absolutely critical in order to best prepare our students to compete in today's highly digitalized world. This is why our private school gives our students exposure to the latest technology.
However, as a parent, sometimes it can seem that your child is constantly on his iPad or texting friends from his smartphone. Since we're living in a world where our children are "growing up digital," it's important that we teach them healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship.
With that being said, here are several practical parenting tips in the age of digital devices:
Establish limits for digital devices and encourage play time.
Talk to your child to come up with agreed upon time limits for using digital devices during the day. For example, 30 minutes of playing an online game in the afternoon.
The more you can get your child unplugged and offline with simple play time, the better you'll stimulate his creativity. Our private school strongly believes that unstructured play time needs to be a daily priority, especially for younger children.
Be a good role model with your own digital devices.
If you're constantly plugging away at your phone or in front of your computer, your children will take notice. If you're asking them to limit their digital use, you need to do the same. In fact, you'll probably find that if you put down your own tablet and give them your undivided attention, you'll be connecting with them at a much deeper level.
Require that online usage take place within your view.
Even if a child behaves properly online, it's to his benefit and safety that your eyes are filtering concerning communications coming from others.
Parents should have access to their child's online accounts until the he turns 18. Consider it a red flag if your child is unwilling to share his login credentials with you.
Make it a habit to periodically check your child's online activity by browsing the search history, email activity, social media interactions, chat room discussions, and more.
Teach the value of face-to-face communication.
It's become incredibly easy to quickly text or email someone when you want to communicate; however, the back-and-forth interaction that comes from face-to-face communication is so important to expose your children to, especially at an early age as it helps with the development of language skills.
Create technology-free zones in your home.
There are certain spaces in your home where technology should not be present, such as at the dinner table or in social gatherings. Also, help your children avoid the temptation of using technology at nighttime when they should be sleeping by recharging devices outside of their bedrooms.
Familiarize yourself with the apps that you allow your children to download.
Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents to turn to for information and reviews about appropriate apps for their children to be using based on their age.
Talk to your child about appropriate online use.
Remind your child that words said online and pictures shared are not private--they will become a digital footprint of your child's life indefinitely.
Certainly, the benefits of students using digital devices can be tremendous; however, spending quality face-to-face time with family, friends, and teachers also plays a significant role in healthy development for your child.
Please contact us to learn more about how our private school is encouraging a healthy balance of technology and play in the learning environment. Our mission is to challenge each student in a supportive environment that promotes academic excellence, sound moral values, and high self-esteem within a framework of God’s love.