It may not surprise parents and teachers that social media use among middle schoolers and teens is growing. Yet, many of us struggle to make sense of what our kids are doing online. We don’t understand what the fuss is about, and can’t seem to keep up with all the new apps and tools that are popping up. Often teens are more savvy than we might give them credit for. Common Sense Media, a website offering expert, parent and child reviews of technological entertainment, reports that 72% of teens believe that companies manipulate users into spending more time on their devices.
Limiting screen time probably ranks near the top of most “Dreaded Parental Duties” lists. Finding the right balance between “I just need a few minutes of peace” and the endless playback loop of Netflix is never easy. In my house, our rule is no screens after school, since the Bubble Guppies join us for breakfast on many mornings. To tell the truth, I thought I was doing pretty well in the screen-limitation-parenting department, until the afternoon that my three year old tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mommy, leave the phone down. Play with me.” Clearly, limiting my son’s screen time wasn’t enough. I also needed to check my own digital devices at the door. It was a hard thing to hear.
Balancing the benefits of technology against its distractions, especially for middle school students, is an important topic for educators and parents alike. Recently I shared some tips on starting a conversation with your student about her use of technology. Remember, our Middle School students have a facility with the device that adults usually do not. However, there is a need for parents to monitor the way a student uses his or her device.
Typically, parents have the knowledge and children still have something to learn. With tech, the tables are often turned. At Shorecrest, an Apple Distinguished School, technology and the iPad are threaded into our Middle School days. As a result, our Middle School students have a facility with the device that adults usually do not. However, there is a need for parents to monitor the way a student uses his or her device. Here are some starting points for a conversation with your Middle School student about using the iPad appropriately and avoiding distractions.
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