It seems as though every time parents figure out the best way to guide and manage an adolescent's tech usage, it's a new app, website or workaround that takes parents back to square one! Here are three more hacks to help you keep your adolescent safe and smart online:
It’s not a phone.
Perhaps we should stop calling them that! If we think back to the phones we had during our middle school years, they were nothing like the cell phones that students and adults have today.
Back in the day, you used a phone to call someone, and now it feels like the phone “app” is a secondary use of iPhones, Galaxies, etc. Remember that students think of them as phones even less than adults, and often do not use them for that purpose.
Like other tech devices, we strongly recommend that parents monitor smartphone use (and especially checking texts on a regular basis), remove them from study areas do not let students keep them in their bedrooms overnight.
Often students are involved in text message group chats. These can be productive when used for homework help or gathering school related information. However, they can be distracting when trying to use the iPad for studying / reading.
The simple solution is to individually shut down notifications for each app (messaging, instagram, etc.) during the study time and then individually re-enable them when you’re done with work. It takes less than 30 seconds to do this and allows a student to have uninterrupted work time on their tech device.
Those of you who know me well know that I am not a fan of Snapchat. The social media app is a common one on the phones of teenagers, but it has very few redeeming qualities. Snapchat claims that “life is more fun when you live in the moment” and that messages/photos sent using the app are not saved.
This sounds like a great way to exchange pictures and texts with friends, but it can be very tempting to use the app for inappropriate purposes. Users feel they can send messages without repercussions, but there are third party apps that save incoming messages and photos.
The app is notorious for inappropriate language and images, and even has the reputation as the “sexting” app. Recently, Snapchat has added a curated portion of the app that brings content to users—which is often mature in nature and you cannot opt out of it.
There is nothing on Snapchat that can’t be done with normal texting, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Jonathan Davis is the Head of Middle School at Shorecrest, an Apple Distinguished School. The Apple Distinguished School, a designation reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.