Families & the Community

One More Thing for Educators to Do: Teach Parents About Proper Use of Technology

By Alyson Klein — June 23, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Philadelphia

These days, schools have to do more than just teach kids to use technology—they have to make sure parents understand what’s going on in their students digital lives, too.

“We have an obligation to parents to help understand how to use technology,” said Rita Oates, the former district technology director for Miami-Dade County Schools, who now is now president of Oates Associates, a consulting firm, during a session at the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference here.

That’s especially true, she said, for districts with 1-to-1 initiatives. “If we’re handing them an iPad or handing them a tablet to go home” we need to teach them how to help their child use it responsibly, she said.

One way to make that happen: Family Technology Night. That could be its own standalone thing, or a session at another event, like back-to-school night, she said.

Oates suggested district leaders kick off conversations with parents by asking questions about their child’s technology use, their anxieties, and more. For instance educators can ask parents:

What’s your biggest fear for your child in this technology rich world? In general, families worry that their children may meet predators online, use their parents’ credit card to buy something without asking permission, share family information with strangers, see graphic or pornographic photos, share their own sexually-explicit photos, be the victim of cyberbullying, become distracted and neglect their school work, and more, Oates said.

Do you discuss acceptable behavior online with your children. At what age? What is acceptable online behavior? Mothers are more likely than fathers to report talking with their kids about appropriate online behavior, according to data that Oates shared. And parents who are less affluent are more likely to talk to their kids about appropriate online behavior than those that are more financially well-off. What’s more, Hispanic parents are more likely to talk to their kids about proper online behavior than their white or black counterparts.

Have you ever learned something from your children about your phone or tablet or laptop? Chances are parents will say yes here. Fifty-four percent of parents have learned something from their child regarding their own smart phone or tablet, according to data Oates shared.

Oates also suggested that educators talk to parents about how their own behavior with devices influences their kids. She suggested families consider instituting “device free dinners” so that children have a chance to connect and build their social-emotional skills through conversation with family.

And she recommended that school districts offer “book study” for educators on how to help children cope with the digital world. (One of her favorites: Screen Smart Parenting by Jodi Gold, which she said includes practical strategies for parents to monitor their kids’ device use and model good digital behavior.)

She also suggested some resources for schools, including the PTA’s Digital Safety Page, Common Sense Media, and stopthinkconnect.org, which she said has materials in a wide-range of languages on issues such as data privacy.

But despite all those suggestions, educators who attended the session said they still have a tough time connecting with parents on digital literacy.

For instance, the 9,500-student Flagstaff United School District in Arizona, has had a number of “family technology nights” over the years. But it’s a challenge to get parents to show up.

The district’s biggest tech night attracted just 35 parents. And one session only drew five, said Heather Zeigler, the district’s digital literacy specialist. That’s true even though the district offered food and free baby-sitting, and called around to make sure parents were aware of the event.

Zeigler would love to see 100 parents show up. After all, there’s so much families don’t know about tech, especially when it comes to gaming applications. “They don’t realize that their kids could be chatting with friends or strangers through those apps,” she said.

Want more? Check out these related stories:

Image: Getty


Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community 'I Need You to Wear a Mask to Protect My Child.' A Mom Fights for Vulnerable Students
Some parents see a tension between their medically vulnerable children's safety and their educational needs during the pandemic.
8 min read
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Governor Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, who is medically at-risk, from being able to attend school safely. Juliana Ramirez, 8, a third grader at James Bonham Academy in San Antonio, Texas, has ADHD and severe asthma which puts her at risk of complications from COVID-19.
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, 8, who is medically at risk, from being able to attend school safely.
Julia Robinson for Education Week
Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
iStock/Getty
Families & the Community COVID Protocols Keep Changing. Here's How Schools Can Keep Parents in the Know
Parents and educators shared best practices for effective communication related to the pandemic. It all centers on transparency.
6 min read
communication information network 1264145800 b
cagkansayin/iStock/Getty