Every back-to-school season, marketers push high tech like it's going out of style. There are e-readers, tablets, smartphones, MP3 players -- even social media campaigns to get kids interacting with products before they go shopping. But as students bring new technologies into classrooms, schools are finding that their digital policies just can't keep pace.
Many schools try to create rules that promote learning and protect students and teachers. But some schools' efforts wind up backfiring. The state of Missouri even forbade teachers and students from talking on Facebook in a decision that was ultimately overturned.
Technology and schools don't have to just coexist -- they can complement each other. For one thing, many schools are being tasked with implementing programs that help cultivate 21st-century skills like online learning and collaboration. For another, technology is a huge part of kids' lives, and carrying it around with them -- from the school bus to homeroom to the playground -- is a trend that's only going to grow.
A survey of its readers conducted by iVillage found that a whopping 98% of parents are involved in their kids' education. And many studies suggest that getting involved with the school is one of the best ways to make positive changes. So, with that in mind, here are five ways you can help your school develop a cohesive strategy to help schools, students, and tech get along.
Find out your kid's school's tech policy. Before you send your kid to school with a cell phone, a DS, or other personal devices, call and find out what the rules are. Many schools allow them (turned off, in a backpack) until after school and have consequences for non-compliance.
Reach out to other parents. Agree on some guidelines for Facebook and other social media to make sure that everyone's on the same page about online behavior. Start with no Facebook for kids under 13, no cyberbullying, and no misbehavior. This will make it a lot easier to deal with kids who cross the line.
Watch your own tech habits. Kids are learning how to interact with technology partly from you. Set limits on yourself, and your kids will grow to understand the importance of real face-to-face conversations.
Review rules for responsible online usage. When kids do research online, they sometimes forget that they can't copy things directly from the Internet into their reports and homework. Explain the basics of copyrighted material and plagiarism.
Host a parent education night. Help your school community learn about Internet safety, cyberbullying, social media, and other technology. Download our parent-engagement toolkit for ideas and support on a huge range of digital issues -- including step-by-step guidance on how to hold a parent-education night.