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Digital Wellness: Having Conversations About Technology Safety With Your Child

  • Health and Wellness
Chris Lazartic

As technology becomes integrated more into both the lives of adults and children, we want to provide extra time and resources this month to focus on the healthy use of this technology. Over the next four weeks, students will engage in Cyber Civics activities and discussions in Leadership and Innovation classes. If you have any questions, concerns or additional information to share, feel free to email Middle School STEAM Coach Chris Lazartic.

Digital Wellness Month Overview:

In today’s world, getting students ready for a digital lifestyle is essential to success at work as well as in life. Students need to learn how to interact socially, personally and educationally in both face-to-face and online environments. With all of the new opportunities that are possible through digital learning spaces, students should master these skills through the lens of health and wellness. Teachers and classes use these four topics, in addition to Cyber Civics lessons taught in Leadership and Innovation Classes, to teach students how to lead healthy digital lives. In week one we will focus on Safety, then Etiquette, Citizenship and Wellness n the following weeks.

Week 1: Safety: Be Aware. I will be safe online and protect private information.

Big Ideas:

  • Many different websites and apps may ask users to share their location and/or other personal information. Children, especially, should not share any of this information.
  • Strangers may reach out to internet users of all ages attempting to gather information. All users should be aware of this and be very careful about what information is shared with anyone online.
  • Anyone that is using social media or public sites should be aware of privacy settings and how to update them accordingly.
  • Some tips on your child’s use of a device in the home: 1.) Talk with your child about appropriate use of the internet and what they post. 2.) Have your child use the device in public rooms of the house. 3.) Charge the device in a public area of the house, not the bedroom. 4.) Internet filtering tools for the home (OpenDNSCircle with Disney) should be used.

Based on our safety focus this week, here are conversations and activities you can explore with your students. 

Conversation Starters for Lower School Families:

  • Have you ever used an app, game or website that asks you for your location? What do you click or select? Why might they be asking for this information? Do you know how to change privacy settings?
  • Discuss with your child what it’s like to have a “gut feeling” about an uncomfortable situation. You can use a traffic light analogy (green = okay, yellow = iffy, red = risky) to help kids assess different online scenarios (e.g., if someone asks for a photo, talks about inappropriate things, asks them to keep anything a secret, bothers them, says something that makes them feel sad or upset). You might be tempted to lean on typical “stranger danger” messaging here, but do consider that these situations may also happen with people kids know or sort of know.
  • Emphasize to your child that they have the power to end conversations and log off the internet at any time, and to not let shyness or embarrassment prevent them from talking to a parent or family member if they get into an iffy or risky situation. This approach can apply beyond grooming to issues like cyberbullying and online scams, too.
  • Why is it important not to share important information (like our home address, phone numbers, garage door codes, when mom and dad won’t be home, etc.) online or in social media apps?

 

Conversation Starters for Middle School Families:

  • Together with your child, do a Google search of their name with your child and see what comes up. If anything is available, discuss if it appropriate and if they can do anything to change the privacy of that information.
  • If your child uses any of these platforms, talk about their privacy settings. Here is how to change settings to control who can see your posts, images and videos. For Privacy Settings Details: FacebookInstagramTwitterSnapchatTik-Tok* - *Be especially careful with Tik-Tok and its Privacy Policy. They share a lot of information; Read more here.
  • Now test your Privacy Settings:
    • Using a friend or a follower’s device or computer, see what information of yours is available to them with your social media accounts.
    • Using a device or computer that you are not signed into, see what information of yours is publicly available with your social media accounts.
    • Make any settings adjustments that you want to using the help above.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Our thanks to Hilliard City Schools (Columbus, OH) for the use, with permission, of some of the above content.

 


About the Author:

Chris Lazartic is Middle School STEAM Coach, Student Leadership and Entrepreneurship Coach at Aspen Academy.

Chris moved from Delaware to teach at Aspen Academy in 2010. He has a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership (University of Denver) and a Bachelor's degree in Earth Science Education, as well as his principal licensure. Chris loves that Aspen is a place that continues to inspire growth on both a personal and professional level. Outside of work, Chris can be found hiking, camping, disc golfing, skiing and traveling. Chris lives in Conifer, Colorado, with his wife, Elyse, their two dogs and horse.