Digital Learning

  • Snapchat: What Parents Need to Know

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 7/31/2018 8:00:00 AM

    Snapchat: What Parents Need to Know

    By the numbers!

    1: most used social media site for teenagers.

    187 million: Number of people who use Snapchat daily.

    9,000: Number of Snaps that are sent per second.

    40: Number of minutes per day teenagers spend on Snapchat.

    What is it?  

    On Snapchat, you can snap a picture or a video and add text or filters then send it to your friends.  Friends can view the image or video for a short period of time before it disappears.

    Terms to know.

    • Snaps- snaps are the individual pictures or videos you take.  Snaps only show for a short period of time before they disappear.  
    • Stories- stories are collections of snaps that play in the order you recorded them over the previous 24 hours.
    • Snap Map- map that shows the live location of all of your Snapchat friends (using the phones GPS capabilities).  
    • Ghost Mode- Turning on Ghost Mode hides your location on the Snap Map.
    • SnapStreak- Number of days that you have shared snaps back and forth with a friend.  
    • Discover- Discover Stories are daily content from 12 outlets and you can swipe to see more information about the topic or from the outlet.  

    Important things to know.

    • Snapchat’s Terms of Service require that you to be 13 to create an account.   
    • Snaps don’t really disappear.  Anything can be screen-captured or recorded on a phone!  There are also apps that allow users to save snaps without the sender knowing. It’s important to remind children that once they share  information, images, or videos they share on social media, they can’t control who sees it.
    • Ghostmode is important!  Allowing snapchat friends to see your location can be dangerous and kids need to understand that.  
    • Usernames in Snapchat should be kept private.  If someone knows your username, they can receive updates about your snaps and can message you within the app.  
    • Experts advise that streaks pressure children to use the app every day and can cause anxiety.
    • Discover stories have content that is more appropriate for adults and might introduce your child to inappropriate content.


    Common Sense Media

    SnapChat What Parents Need to Know

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  • Cell Phone Parenting

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 7/24/2018 8:00:00 AM

    For kids, getting a cell phone has become a milestone and a lot of conversations in families revolve around when it’s the right time.

    Experts advise that the right age to give a child their first cell phone is when they are ready and that age isn’t as important as child’s maturity level, tech savviness, and social awareness.

    A good time for children to start using mobile phones is when there is a meaningful or pressing need in the family for that phone.  In some families, that may be in elementary school when your child starts walking home from school on their own. In other families, it might be in middle school when you child has after-school activities and needs to be able to contact you.  Or maybe your child doesn’t need a phone until they get to high school.

    Cell phones are a big responsibility, so it’s important that you have clear conversations about family rules and expected behavior before purchasing a phone.

    Here are some tips:

    • Have clear conversations about family rules and expected behavior.  Talk about things like privacy and not sharing personal information.  Talk about the permanency of things they share online or text their friends.  
    • Set screen time limits and consider having a charging station in a busy room like the kitchen or living room and not allowing cell phones in the bedroom.  
    • Talk about being good digital citizens and treating others with kindness and respect online.  
    • Talk about how to handle a situation that is scary or hurtful, like bullying.  
    • Set clear rules for behavior (Take a look at this example!)
      (Source: Family Online Safety Institute)

    Cell Phone Parenting info graphic.

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  • Parental Controls for Devices: What are they and should I use them?

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 7/10/2018 8:00:00 AM

    When it comes to teaching children about the using digital media responsibly, the number one strategy is to have conversations.  Talk early and often about how to handle situations, how to treat people online, and what your expectations are.

    But as parents, we also have a few different options to limit or filter our children’s access through parental controls.  Parental controls allow parents to manage certain aspects of a child’s behavior on a device. You can restrict access to certain content or functions, limit purchasing and limit the ability to download apps.

    Some  examples of parental controls:

    • Almost all smartphones, tablets, computers, and gaming consoles have parental controls in the settings that will allow you to restrict certain access.  This is a good list that explains how to find and use parental controls on a variety of devices.  
    • Most phone service providers have additional services you can purchase that allow you to set limits on data usage and monitor cell phone activity, as well as place limits on screen time.
    • There are apps and services that can monitor cell phone activity, social media usage and emails for potential safety concerns and alert you when there are potential issues or areas for concern.
    • There are also devices and software that you can connect to your home network to limit content and usage time of any device connected to that network.  

    Keep in mind that nothing is fail-safe.  Parental controls will help limit access, but shouldn’t be relied on entirely to keep kids safe online.  When deciding which parental controls to use, experts recommend including your kids in the conversation. Be transparent about what is being blocked and why.  Explain why it’s important to limit screen time and decide as a family when and how much screen time is acceptable.

    The Federal Trade Commision has outlined some great things to remember when talking to your kids about online behavior:

    • Talk early and often.
    • Create an honest, open environment.
    • Communicate your values.
    • Be patient.

    (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

    Resources regarding parental controls:

    Common Sense Media- Everything You Need To Know About Parental Controls

    Should You Use Parental Controls

    graphic for parental controls information

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  • Good Digital Parenting

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 7/3/2018 8:00:00 AM

    Students are surrounded by access to media and they need the adults around them to guide them and model healthy behavior regarding devices, social media, and internet use.

    Here are some tips to help parents set a good foundation for digital media:

      1. Talk to your kids.  Talk early and often about the apps they are using, the games they are playing, and the things they like to do online. Start conversations about digital behavior as soon as they start using phones or computers.   Be open and direct. Use everyday opportunities to talk about online behavior and be clear and direct with your expectations.
      2. Educate yourself.  Search online for anything you don’t understand.  Try out the apps, games or sites your children are using, or better yet, have them show you how they work and watch while they play.  Explore tips and resources on trusted sites. Here’s a list of our favorite resources!
      3. Use parental controls.  Phones, tablets and gaming consoles all have parental controls.  Use those controls to safeguard your children while they are online.  Also, monitor your child’s screen time and their use of devices.
      4. Set ground rules. Be clear about your expectations and family rules for online behavior.  Create and sign a family safety contract. (Here’s a great example from Common Sense Media.) Set a time and place for technology use in your house. Some examples of good practices:  only allow device usage in common areas or family rooms, set up a charging station in the kitchen or parent’s bedroom for overnight charging, and decide together on screen time limits each day.
      5. Be a good digital role model.  Curb your own digital habits and model your family rules for online behavior.  Consider what you are posting on social media and show your kids how to collaborate online appropriately.  


    good digital parenting graphic image

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  • Internet Safety Month

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 6/26/2018

    June is Internet Safety Month and with school out and some children having a little more free time, it’s a great time to talk to your kids about making good and safe choices when online!

    Take a look at these staggering facts and statistics for teens (ages 13-17):

    • 95% have a smartphone.
    • Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram are their top social media sites.
    • 45% say they are online “almost constantly”.
    • 90% play digital games and 84% have a gaming console at home.

    See the full report here.

    It’s important to talk to children about online behavior as soon as they start using devices. Popular activities like social media and online games are opportunities for children to share too much information about themselves.

    Help kids stay safe online by talking to them about:

    • The information they share.  Children share information without even realizing it, so talking specifically about the types of information they need to protect will help them make better choices when online.  Students should never share: name, birthday, age, any specifics that might give away their location (school name, town, address), contact information, or photos with identifying information.
    • Their online presence.  Talk about the personal information they share when they create accounts for online games and websites.  Talk about the public nature of the internet and how they can use privacy settings to protect their information.
    • The permanency of anything posted online.  Even on apps and sites where we think things disappear, like Snapchat, nothing really goes away once you put it out there.  


    digital learning graphic image

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  • Introduction: Parenting in the Digital Age

    Posted by Rikki Smith on 6/25/2018

    Parenting in the digital age is tough!  Digital citizenship, online gaming, apps, parent controls, cyberbullying, social media… how do you keep up with it all and understand enough to make informed decisions about what’s right for your family?  At Rockwall ISD, we are here to help.

    This summer we will be sharing a variety of research, tips and resources to help you navigate raising children in a digital world.

    Be on the lookout for our hashtag #digitallearningrisd for information.

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