Thursday, March 17, 2016

Engaging Parents as Partners in Supporting Our Digital Explorers

An important component of leading in a blended learning environment is engaging parents as partners in the digital citizenship journey. As students get older and begin to explore social media and the vast digital world, I often hear from parents anxious to understand how to support digital exploration in a safe and balanced manner. At my school, we put together a parent tip sheet and digital home contract to support parents in this home-school partnership.

  • Set clear digital boundaries for when, what, where and with whom. Allow these to grow with your child just as you would expand their radius for navigating the neighborhood.
  • Rely on age requirements. If your child asks to have an account on an application, prompt him or her to look at the usage policy with you. If there is a minimum age requirement, ask if he or she is comfortable misrepresenting him or herself and guide them to alternatives:
    • Wait until you are age appropriate.
    • Have a family account to use together and learn together.
  • Set up a digital home contract (see the attached template). Use the time to learn about what interests your child and to set appropriate guidelines.
  • Engage with your children in their use of technology. Share accounts before creating one for your child to practice together. A family Instagram can be a great way to teach responsible use before your child reaches the minimum age requirement of 13 for that app.
  • Keep safety in mind first, and have open communication about how to handle any stranger situations.
  • Set and stick to a power-down time, and after this time, store any devices with you instead of inside your child’s room.  

It is important to have open communication with your child, setting clear expectations and boundaries regarding their online presence. Here is a list of additional resources we have compiled to help you. Additionally, we encourage you to use an age-appropriate version of the attached digital home contract.

16 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

Digital Home Contract

Family Members:


Child’s Preference
Parent’s Preference
Mutual Agreement
(ex: my phone, your phone, family computer, personal computer, desktop, laptop, iPad)

(ex: texting, group chat, email, games, blogging, video)

(ex: weekday hours, weekend hours, device storage & usage location)

Apps & Sites
(ex: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, iMovie, Youtube, WattPad)

(ex: password sharing, family accounts v. personal accounts)

(ex: information on profiles, networking with others, gaming with others, friending, etc.)

We will review and revise this family agreement every ________ months/years through childhood. We also agree we will communicate openly and honestly about technology.

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