As much as we all love our iphones and ipads, most parents realise that technology presents challenges for our kids as well as opportunities. Singapore American School is a leader when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom and Jodi Jonis, a staff writer at the school shares with some sound advice with Singapore Baby on striking the right balance and making sure your child gets a healthy start to tech.
By: Jodi Jonis, Singapore American School Staff Writer
At Singapore American School (SAS), technology is widely embraced as a means to enhance the education experience. The vision states ‘Technology serves as a dynamic tool for teaching and learning that optimizes productivity, communication, connectivity, and enhances creativity, collaboration, and innovation.’ As early as kindergarten every child has access to an iPad with a host of educational apps that support a high level of personalized learning. These kids are what you call digital natives; those who have grown up with technology and so have a natural understanding and proficiency.
Though the learning opportunities that technology promises are tremendous, introducing technology to young children is not without its criticism or concern. Many parents express concern over a range of issues regarding technology that include kids’ obsessive behaviour, lack of boundary-setting skills, emotional attachment to devices, tantrums, and worry over inappropriate images a child might unintentionally see.
Ultimately, we want kids to be able to make good decisions online in order to be able to take full advantage of the benefits of technology. It is important that they receive age-appropriate and regular education about how to behave online and keep themselves safe. SAS takes the task of educating students and parents on digital citizenship very seriously. Their curriculum covers topics from internet safety, the digital footprint, privacy, information literacy, and cyber bullying.
Here are five things you can teach your kids to give them a healthy, successful start with technology.
Respect and protect yourself – The most basic place to start when teaching kids about online safety is to never, EVER talk to strangers. Make sure your child knows never to share her name, passwords, or any personal information whatsoever. As they get older and begin sharing personal photos and posts on social media, they protect themselves by insuring their content is respectful and does not embarrass themselves or others..
NO BULLYING – This sounds simple but it is oh so important. The use of technology for harassment or intimidation a major concern in today’s schools. Teach your kids very young to be respectful of others, on- and off-line.
Remember moderation and balance – Never let your child spend multiple hours in front of a screen. Encourage kids to take frequent breaks, spend time outdoors, and have meaningful, face-to-face conversations with other people. For older children, when homework is done online, creating a schedule of computer-use is helpful to assist kids in setting boundaries.
Stay in the designated areas – Set boundaries with your kids verbally about where they are allowed to “wander” once online, communicate pre-approved websites and safe places. Be clear about why you are setting these boundaries. Learn which software you have access to that can monitor your child’s use and block them from unapproved sites. Most important, develop your child’s own instinct for when a site doesn’t feel right so they can make their own healthy choices.
Stay focused – For older kids who have more access, it is too easy to become distracted online by ads, unrelated articles and pictures that, once clicked, lead you down a completely counterproductive path. Sit with your kids and help them identify when and how they get distracted and train them to stay on topic.