Portage Township Schools and the Portage community are committed to encouraging positive, healthy, life practices in children.
These practices, also known as Developmental Assets, include a number of strategies for providing students with healthy boundaries within the community, the school, and the family. Unfortunately, the availability of technology in our culture today makes maintaining these boundaries a significant challenge for all of us.
Many children have computers, tablets, smart phones, or laptops at home, and even for students without access at home, these devices are available at school, friends’ homes, Boys & Girls Clubs, libraries, and many other areas in the community. This makes managing healthy boundaries extremely difficult for parents and educators alike.
How and when children should be allowed to use technology can be a difficult decision for parents and educators especially when we may have become increasingly dependent on technology ourselves. At Portage Township Schools, we are committed to providing our students with a safe and enjoyable experience with technology and strive to help them learn when technology is appropriate to use in our learning environment as well as when technology should be set aside.
Some ideas for helping children learn appropriate boundaries with technology:
Talk with your child about how they use technology in school, at home, and with their friends.
Have conversations with your child about proper behavior online.
Have one or more “no electronics” times during the day such as during meals or homework time.
Collect all electronic devices at bed time to restrict access during the night.
Turn off your Wi-Fi or your Internet connection at a specific time in the evening and back on again in the morning.
Change your home Wi-Fi password daily and require your children to finish their chores in order to “earn” the password.
Require your child to “friend” or invite you to participate in their online activities.
Require your child to give you all logins and passwords to their electronic devices and their online accounts. Check up on them occasionally to make sure they’re using the technology appropriately.
Most important, however, is the need for parents and educators to model appropriate technology use in front of children. We need to put our devices away during appropriate times, ignore our texts, notifications or status updates during family times like dinner or game time or during class time. We need to be open with our children and students with how we utilize social media and how we behave online towards our peers.
These practices become even more important in light of the recent suicide of a student in Florida thought to have been initiated by cyber-bullying. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Cyberbullying Research Center, 52 percent of students have reported being cyber-bullied and the majority of these students do not tell their parents when cyber-bullying occurs. By talking with your child about their technology use, monitoring their use, and paying attention to their conversations online we can not only help protect our children from cyber-bullying and abuse but can also quickly identify if our children are bullying other children online. Technology is a permanent part of our lives, how we react to it however, remains up to us.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.