As the parent of a teenager, phone and social media use are a constant source of anxiety in our household. Especially as teenagers get older and spend more time with their friends, it becomes increasingly harder to control. Speaking with friends and colleagues, I know I am not the only one that feels this way.
From my position as the Executive Director of Horizons at Colorado Academy, I see how our students are addicted to their phones and gadgets. As educators, we struggle to find a happy medium between allowing students to use their phones during downtime, versus not allowing them to use their phones at all. While technology has its advantages, it definitely has its downside.
One of the effects that worries me the most is how isolating it can be to spend hours in front of a screen, either playing video games or poking around on the internet, and how that time negatively impacts social interaction. It also robs us of the opportunity to explore and research for ourselves, especially in an educational setting.
For all of these reasons, Horizons partnered with FACE (Family and Community Engagement) in November last year to provide a series of workshops at Knapp Elementary for Horizons and Knapp Elementary parents to help them navigate social media and technology use with their children. The families that participated came away feeling empowered. Equipped with a social media contract, families now have a roadmap for managing their children’s interactions with technology.
Some of the top takeaways of the workshops were:
- As parents, it is important for us to talk to one another and hear how families are being impacted by technology use with their kids.
- A contract is a great tool to set boundaries with kids. Here is a link to the contract that FACE created.
- There are some controls available in device settings that are especially helpful for younger children. Here is a link for more information.
Overall, this is a complex problem, and we as parents and educators need to do our best to guide our digital natives through this complicated digital age. I am eternally grateful to the FACE staff for working with our families to help us become more informed.