By Mrs Deanna Hollis, Head of Secondary & Mrs Janet Walsh, Lead Teacher of Innovation & Learning
As senior members of staff we have dealt with several issues lately around the use of technology and social media, so we thought it might be helpful to share a few tips. We both have Apple devices so our photos will come from our screens but are easily translated to Android devices.
It is important that parents are involved in their children’s digital use. Firstly, you can conduct a simple check to see how the device is being used. By going into Settings and selecting Battery you can see what apps the battery has been using in the last 24 hours and the last 10 days, as well the amount of time the screen has been on. This tool is a quick health check on usage. It also shows what time of day activity takes place.
Screens Off & Do Not Disturb
To maintain good physical and mental health it is recommended that students have little or no use between 10pm and 6am for Secondary students and 8.30pm and 7am for Primary students. Teaching students to use the Do Not Disturb function on their device can help them deal with notifications that come through during the night. It is found in Settings and can be adjusted to anytime.
Private Social Media Accounts
Social media accounts should be private, students should only have friends they know. How to use social media is a skill that needs to be taught and we all know that making mistakes is part of learning; however, it is much better to make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment. Students who have their parents and grandparents as friends on their social accounts tend to post far more appropriate information about themselves. They shouldn’t post information that identifies them, their address or their school; posting this information leaves them vulnerable to people none of us would like to have as a friend. There is also no need for students to have multiple active accounts for the one social media platform. They easily lose track of what they are posting to whom.
Screen Time & Family Sharing
The Screen Time menu in Settings is also a useful tool in monitoring screen time, but also has other features like App limits, Communication Limits and Content and Privacy Restrictions. These features are all self-explanatory and everyone should know they are there.
The Screen Time setting can be managed from your device if you have your child set up with Family Sharing. Family Sharing makes it easy for you and up to five family members to share Apple Books, and App Store purchases, an Apple Music family plan, and an iCloud storage plan. Your family can also share a photo album and a family calendar, and even help locate each other’s missing devices. It also provides functional features for parents such as managing screen time from your personal device along with seeing what your child has been using their device for a little more easily than using the battery check.
Recommended Ages for Apps
All apps come with a recommended age and we strongly encourage you to pay attention to these ratings. We understand that at times ratings can seem to be strange for what we would expect but these ratings are given based on what applications offer. For example, Instagram is rated 12+ and students have often questioned why when it’s just about posting photos. One reason is if students do not have a closed account then they can be contacted by anyone. Also, if children add hash tags, even if they have a closed account, their photos can be seen by anyone. If #school #scone was used, then anyone who does a search for those terms can find posts, opening students to potential risks.
At times, we have asked students to download apps that are above their suggested age restrictions, such as Chrome. This is always done in consultation with our IT Education Consultant and with the understanding that our WiFi filters are now very strong and will block a lot of what could come through that we don’t want your children to be exposed to.
A benefit of family sharing is that if a child would like to download an app, they need to request permission from you. This is a great way to keep an eye on the apps that are being used. Before approving applications for your child or to find out more information about an app, we highly recommend the use of the eSafety Commissioner website. This link https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/esafety-guide takes you to a web page that outlines many apps your child may be using and outlines their use and potential risks. It is a great starting place when searching to protect your children.
Technology is a great tool for learning and connection if used properly. It is a learning experience for all – students, parents and teachers – and we ask that you are proactive in encouraging and supporting best practice when it comes to devices and your child. If we can be of any help in supporting you to support your child in this, please contact us.