- Kentwood High School
Online Summer Safety Tips for Families
As summer break approaches, it’s crucial that parents and their students discuss and practice safe and healthy online habits. The summer months and the absence of the school day routine yields more flexibility and autonomy for students when using technology, so it’s important to model and discuss the importance of balancing screen time and creating and maintaining a positive digital reputation, especially on social media platforms.
Tech Tips to Help Balance Summer Screen Time
- Set healthy limits and clarify expectations - start with small, manageable goals around screen time and online reputation that align with your family values and goals.
- Engage in open and honest conversations – discuss the importance of tech use and how hard it can be to balance its use. Discuss the signs that may signal us to unplug and take a break from our device. When this happens discuss possible activities your child could do. The important thing is that you are always working toward balance.
- Agree upon technology use time – will the time be a reward, or will it be designated time within the summer daily routine? During appropriate technology use time, consider generating an educational goal that interests your child. Please see some examples below:
- Learn to use a new technology tool (ex: Microsoft Sway, Flipgrid, Canva, MakeCode, etc.)
- Learn a new language (ex: Duolingo or Mango Language – available through KSD KCLS membership)
- Participate in or prepare for a future STEM challenge (ex: Team Tech Challenge for 11th grade students, Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story and Comic Contest, Rube Goldberg Machine Challenge, Minecraft Global Build Challenge: Peace with Nature, etc.
- Create a portfolio containing the things within your education journey that you’re proud of (available platforms: Canva or Sway – Click here for free templates to get your student started)
- Create a Resume
- Research change agents advocating for safe online habits and empower your student to make a difference by asking how they can contribute (Start an #ICANHELP Club, Start a ReThink Chapter, Project Rockit)
- Create a summer family tech contract – You can use a premade contract like this Common Sense Media Family Media Agreement or build your own using this AAP Media Plan tool
-Content sourced from EGUSD Digital Citizenship Website.
Creating A Positive Digital Reputation
According to the eSafety Commissioner (Australia) your digital reputation is the digital footprint created by the things you say and do online, as well as what others post about you. Your digital reputation is a permanent electronic record of you and is visible to others – what lives online lasts forever. It is important that we explain to students that our digital reputation is tied to our character, personality, and personal reputation in the physical world.
Tips for creating a positive digital reputation:
- Work together to establish safe boundaries around what to share online
- Ask students to reflect on what they share online and how they contribute to online conversations and ask them to describe their online reputation. Does it resemble their desired personal reputation?
- Discuss the long-term consequences of your online footprint. For example, a harmful post can have lasting consequences – revoked scholarship, removed from extracurricular activities, school suspension, etc.
- Stress the importance of protecting your student’s privacy and respecting the privacy of others online
- Work with your student to critically engage with online content – look for credible sources, review content/information without bias, etc.
Social Media Safety
During the summer months students are looking for ways to fill the void from school. With the absence of their daily school routine, they may lean on technology to connect with friends, explore their interests, express themselves, access news and information, among many other things. Social media platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and more can fill these voids for our students. Social media can be used in many positive ways and can help students stay connected, but It is important that we learn about the platforms that our students are on to help them make sound decisions, ensure that their interactions with others are positive and safe and protect them from potential online risks.
Being active on social media can make us more susceptible to being a victim of cyberbullying. What is Cyberbullying? The Family Online Safety Institute states, “While the definitions vary, most consist of the following: electronic forms of contact, an aggressive act, intent, repetition, and harm to the target.
Here are 5 things that the Family Online Safety Institute thinks you should know about Cyberbullying:
- While all bullying hurts, there are a few characteristics unique to cyberbullying.
- The behavior can reach a very large audience.
- Online bullying can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- It can be done anonymously.
- The behavior and actions are often covert.
- Cyberbullying can start before your child is on social media at age 13 - Examples include gaming sites, where children can view or add comments, text messages, or in group chats.
- It’s important to have the conversation about cyberbullying early and often - start the conversation about cyberbullying with your child as soon as they have access to a cell phone, tablet device, or computer.
- Documentation is key- develop a record of what is happening to your child. This history is useful when talking with your child’s school, law enforcement, or others who might help intervene. Screenshot and save any posts or texts containing bullying.
- Most schools have policies to address cyberbullying.
To review KSD’s policy on bullying, please go to our webpage.
Additional Resources To Support Online Safety With Students and Families
- Utilize Netsmartz’s discussion starters and safety tips for teens
- 5 Ways to Stop Cyberbullies | Common Sense Media
- COPPA restricts students from joining social media until they are 13
- Parental Controls - Tools for Parents | ESRB Ratings – parental control guides for video games
- Help youth navigate the digital world with Test Drive Simulators (Ex: Take your child on a “Test Drive” for social media)
- How To Be A Good Digital Parent Toolkit
- Internet Troll and Disinformation Quiz (spotthetroll.org) - The quiz where YOU examine images of real social media content and decide whether it's from a legitimate account or an internet troll.
- Tik Tok Tools and Resources for Parents
- PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center