Friday, May 16, 2014

Big Brother

Recently I was at a meeting with some of the upper elementary principals and we were having a discussion about social media. In the meeting, I heard some pretty awful stories about kids being bullied through social media and some extremely inappropriate messages and pictures being sent.  Nothing new right?  However, what was new information to me were some of the forms and apps being used for these purposes.  After reading an article about common apps that kids are using (and that I had never heard of) and hearing from the principals that when they ask parents if they are monitoring their child's activity on social media and cell phone that the common answer is "No", I was concerned.  Apparently parents either trust that their child would never use it inappropriately or they don't want to feel like Big Brother monitoring all the media and violating their child's privacy.

On my way home from the meeting, I started to think, when was the last time I monitored my middle school daughter's cell phone??  And was she aware of all these new apps that were unknown to me??  I rectified the first issue as soon as I got home.  We have an agreement that I know her phone code and can access it at anytime.  I had been delinquent on that lately with a busy schedule (which is a common excuse that most parents gave the principals of the students who were in trouble).  After I had done a spot check on her phone, I began asking my daughter about the apps I had just read about.  (I'm sure she loves it when I come home from these meetings:).  Sure enough, my sixth grader knew about nearly all of the apps.  Kids think they are safe, because they are free. We then had the "I trust you, but I know that other kids may send inappropriate things to you" conversation.  Followed up by the "Just blame it on your mean dad" talk for why she is not on certain sites or apps.

Now I think I keep up with things, but this meeting and article got me worried. When I spoke with a few other parents, they didn't know of these apps either.  I thought I would share some of the things I learned from the conversation, the article, and a book I recently read on social media.  I will also include the link to the article and the book on social media as well.  Here are some of the sites and apps that are frequently used by students:

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are common social media sites that you are all probably familiar with.
Snapchat: Allows sender to "time out" a text, video, or photo after it is sent and have it delete at a set time.
Voxer: Walkie-Talkie type app for messaging and Kik (these are featured in the article).  The apps are free and allow group texting/chatting and users can create fictitious IDs and or join groups anonymously (a perfect storm for tormenting or bullying students).
There are a few other new social media sites and apps (like Vine, the six-second video app and Tumblr) described in Gary Vaynerchuck's book that parents/teachers may want to know about.

The best advice I gleaned was from author S. Hinduja, who discourages parents from lecturing kids about the evils of technology, but rather to "embrace the latest technology and strike up conversations with your kids about it".  I think that's good advice for both educators and parents.  So, don't fear the technology, but learn to navigate it together safely with your child or student.  And don't feel guilty or worried about turning into Big Brother, but rather be that persistent and loving companion looking over your child's shoulder.

This is the link to the CNN article/interview: kids using apps like Askfm, Kik to cyber

“It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half.” - Gary Vaynerchuk

“One out of every five page views in the United States is on Facebook!” - Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a fun read (and the author also hosted my favorite wine podcast for years:)


"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity" - Albert Einstein

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense" - Gertrude Stein

"Men have become the tools of their tools" - Henry David Thoreau


Monday, May 19: 4:00 After-School Science Program

Tuesday, May 20: 8:15 School Improvement Committee

                             4th Grade Visit to Johnson
                             1:30 Jon meeting with Phil Francis at Central Office
                             3:00 Jon and Joe to Bond Renovation Meeting at Central Office
                             Student Growth Data due to office

Wednesday, May 21: 8:00 Benson Evaluation
                                  8:30 Achievement Team Meeting for Kindergarten Retention Candidate(s)
                                  1:00 Nadon Evaluation

Thursday, May 22: 8:00 Staff Meeting in LMC
                              11:20 Casucci Evaluation
                               2:30 Limberg Evaluation

Friday, May 23: 8:15 Merchant Evaluation
                          10:45 Bartnick Evaluation
                           3:00 Fuller Observation
                           Building Growth Data due to Central Office

Monday, May 26: Memorial Day!
Tuesday, May 27: Final SOTM Assembly at 3:00 pm
Friday, May 30: Spring Fling/Basket Raffle 6:30-8:30 pm
Wednesday, June 4: Field Day
Thursday, June 5: Final PTA Meeting at 6:30 pm
Friday, June 7: Voluntary Packing Day
Thursday, June 12: Assembly at 10:00 am with PATO

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