Back-to-School Questions Asked and Answered – from commonsensemedia.org
School seems to start earlier every year. One minute you’re packing for a week at the beach, the next you’re wondering whether your kid really needs a spiral-bound notebook for every single subject, including PE. This year, back to school will bring another big surprise: more technology — both in and out of the classroom — than ever before.
Navigating this territory will be a fresh challenge to all involved. Teachers and administrators want to use tech to reach out and relate to students, without disrupting class or skimping on lessons. Parents want to make sure that kids maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks. And kids? They mostly just want to have fun — and that often means hours spent online, texting friends, or playing games.
Added to the mix is a 24/7 pipeline that can be both a boon (homework help, research, current events) and a bust (hours-long texting marathons, Facebook drama, age-inappropriate content). Managing kids’ schedules to provide enough time for schoolwork and activities with a reasonable amount of screen time is a delicate balance.
Here are some of the top concerns we’ve heard from parents trying to figure it all out.
- What’s the right age for my kid to bring a cell phone to school?
- What are the rules about using cell phones at school?
- Should students and teachers be friends on Facebook?
- Back-to-school shopping has gotten so ad-heavy. How do I avoid buying into the commercialism?
- Should I let my child bring an iPod (or other music device) to school?
- My daughter has an older model iPod Touch, but all of her friends seem to have newer, fancier ones. She doesn’t need a new one, but she really wants one to keep up appearances. What should I do?
- Does reading on the iPad or Kindle count toward my kids’ daily reading minutes, or would it just be considered screen time?
- My kids are going to get a rude awakening when summer’s over. I plan to put an end to all the free time they’ve been spending on their phones and computers. Any advice on how to ease them in?
- My kids spent the summer of playing video games and watching TV. How do I make sure they’re ready for school?
- My kid’s teacher encourages students to email him with questions. What’s the etiquette for emailing a teacher?
- Technology is a big part of school. I wish that the teachers also taught appropriate rules of behavior about how to treat others online. Where can I (and they) get that information?
- My child’s school is giving every student a laptop for use at school and home. What do I need to know?