The following is an excerpt from the book Growing Global Digital Citizens (2017) by Lee Watanabe-Crockett and Andrew Churches. It concerns guidelines on how schools can best keep parents informed about policies and procedures in regard to Internet safety rules. It offers best practices for technology use both at school and at home.
Often we are asked about striking a balance between use of the device for schoolwork and for personal entertainment. We believe that recreational screen time can’t come at the expense of physical activity. If schoolwork, exercise and chores have been addressed, personal entertainment is acceptable, but consider making it a social activity, something you do together.
The underlying framework for providing parents with sound advice is what we call the 3Is. The 3Is of Internet Safety Rules are a quick snapshot of what parents need to support and protect their children. As you are about to read, these guidelines are applicable to students of every age, from Primary School all the way through high school.
The media’s view of technology is often slanted toward sensationalism, grabbing headlines, and getting ratings. It is important to present parents with the risks, but not to neglect technology’s benefits. Parents need a balanced perspective of technology use. It is important to present the positives and negatives.
Technology is critical to learning and the future of our students, but parents are often only presented with a single side of the picture in the media. How good a device is for learning, and how engaging and relevant it is, does not grab viewer attention in the media, unlike the sometimes-tragic consequences of cyberbullying.
Parents are encouraged to be interested in their child’s learning and technology use. They should be very familiar with it, look at their child’s work, and have the child explain what they are doing, why they are doing it, and why it is significant. Being interested in their child’s learning and online activities gives parents oversight of their child’s activities and can lead to amazing discussions and quick identification of concerns, issues, or problems.
Because teachers tell students what their learning outcomes are, getting them to explain the learning outcomes of the activity or task is very beneficial. The analogy we often use is to compare how their child’s device is just like a traditional exercise book; parents flip through their child’s book, read the teacher’s comments, and ask the child what they are doing. The device is no different.
Keeping all devices in view, while sometimes difficult, will help keep young people safe. It may involve the purchase of headphones to block out the noise of the games they are playing and will often involve chaos at the dining room table as the children spread out their stuff for home learning, but the advantages far outweigh the potential pitfalls.
In Andrew’s home, there is a charging station and all devices (laptops, tablets, and phones) are placed on charge at the end of the evening. The stairs, which mark the boundary between the bedroom area of the house and the living areas, are the boundary for devices. Devices are not allowed upstairs or in bedrooms.
It is hard to surf pornography or access unacceptable material when the device is in the family room. It is hard to hide cyberbullying when the conversations are taking place in a shared space. It is almost impossible to be involved in sexting without a private space. We strongly recommend that devices stay out of bedrooms and remain in public spaces. Almost every cyber-safety agency across the planet echoes this advice.
This 3Is of Internet Safety infographic provides a quick snapshot of what parents need to support and protect their children in the spirit of Global Digital Citizenship practices.