I have had the pleasure to go to each classroom with our guidance counselor this fall to talk to all students about digital citizenship, and how they must be responsible and respectful users with their technology. One of the questions I ask each class is how many students have smart phones. Each year, there seems to be more and more students with smart phones. While we don’t discourage students from bringing their phones to school, they do know that once they walk through our gates, they must have their cell phones turned off until the end of the day.
It is very important that we, as parents, realize that smart phones are not just a phone. They are used to surf the Internet, text, chat, take pictures and to record and watch videos, amongst many other things. Unfortunately, with the increase in cell phone use among children, there has also been a rise in illegal cell phone activity among children. Cell phones, with their advanced capabilities, have created an increase in cyberbullying and sexting among children. Cyberbullying is the use of information and communication technologies to deliberately, repeatedly and intentionally harass and harm another individual. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. Children now at younger ages are sexting and sending provocative pictures, and they don’t realize that once they send it, they are sending it everywhere. Although we talk to your children about not sending inappropriate pictures or saying inappropriate comments to their peers, they do not always fully understand the real consequences behind their actions. They also do not realize how quickly a picture or message can spiral out of control.
If you are going to allow your child to have access to a smart phone, here are some key tips that you can do to help prevent your child from getting into trouble.
With the continued popularity of smart phones, cyberbulling and sexting will not be words that will fade away from our vernacular in the near future. However, by taking proactive steps to educate your children, you can prevent them from becoming victims and from getting into serious trouble with the school and the law.
Don’t forget to mark these important dates on your calendar:
Winter Recess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec. 25 - Jan. 5