The Internet: Everything Good and Bad Side-by-Side
Today's internet-connected society brings with it amazing opportunities for exploration, learning, and growth. Students in all grade levels use technology almost daily to enhance the educational experience and to access tools for learning. Troy ISD is committed to providing up-to-date technology tools that will foster engaging lessons that would otherwise be impossible without tech tools--all filtered and "locked down" to keep students from inappropriate websites. But what about their personal devices? What about home computers? Do parents know how much time their children are spending on their devices? Are they aware of the potential dangers posed by "mainstream" apps such as Twitter and Snapchat? The purpose of this Parents as Partners newsletter is to both raise awareness and provide solutions for parents as they navigate how to raise and educate their kids in a digital world. If you have questions or want to know more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an honor to be part of educating the next generation of Troy ISD students.
Chief Academic Officer
Dangerous Apps for Kids: A Guide for Parents
by Kenny Westmoreland, District Data Manager
Even the most tech-savvy of parents struggle to keep up with all of the latest social media apps. Trends change so often, social media platforms fall in and out of favor, and new viral apps can explode onto the scene in a matter of days. In this ever-changing landscape, it can be a real challenge to tell which apps may be a threat to your child’s well-being. To help you out, we will be running a series on some of the most dangerous apps for kids today. Some you’ll probably recognize, and a few may surprise you!
Kicking off our dangerous apps for kids list is one that most parents are probably familiar with. Snapchat has been around since 2011 and popularized the trend of “disappearing messages.” However, kids may not always fully understand that nothing really disappears on the internet — especially when a screenshot is just a quick button tap away. In addition to providing a space to send inappropriate messages and pictures, Snapchat also presents other dangers for children. The GPS-powered Snap Map enables friends (and potentially even strangers) to know your child’s exact whereabouts. There’s also been a recent uptick in drug dealers using Snapchat to connect with young people, as they think it’s “safer” than texting or emailing.
If you’re surprised by this one, you’re definitely not alone! Twitter is usually considered an app for breaking news, celebrities, and stand-up comedians. But it’s also a go-to source for porn. Twitter is so expansive and has so many users that the app’s search bar is basically like a Google search. Kids know this and use Twitter to find porn because the platform won’t look suspicious if a parent does a quick browser history check. Similarly, because Twitter isn’t exactly all the rage with Gen Z, it’s also not usually an app parents tend to worry too much about when setting screen time rules or creating web filters. Finally, kids don’t even have to sign up for a Twitter account or use the app to access its content — they can check it out anonymously through any web browser.
TikTok is an app for creating and sharing short videos. Users can create short music videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. It encourages users to express themselves creatively through video. Special effects can be added to the videos. Why Parents Should Be Worried: Thirteen is the minimum age, but there isn’t a real way to validate age so anyone can download the app. Also, parents express concern that there is a lot of inappropriate language in the videos so it’s not appropriate for young children. Lastly, by default, all accounts are set to public so strangers can contact your children.
If you're worried about how your children may be using these social media platforms, you have good reason to be. Keep reading for some beginner tips on how to respond as a parent.
Parental Supervision of Students and Technology: Where Do I Start?
by Samantha Preece, District Instructional Technology Coach and G/T Coordinator
As a parent, no one cares more about your child’s well-being and success than you do. And after reading above about three very popular, but potentially dangerous, social media apps, you may be thinking, "Where do I start to get a handle on what my children are doing online?" In this edition, I'll give you some basic, high-level steps you can take to prevent technology and social media from having too much influence on your children. In our next edition, I'll focus on some specific tools to manage devices and limit students' use of their phones and the social media apps on them.
Balance is Key
Technology can be an empowering tool for all ages, allowing students to learn in engaging ways, express their creativity and stay connected with their peers. Along with this comes parental concern for safety, access to inappropriate content, and the ramifications of too much screen time. While finding balance may look different from family to family, it is important to do the following:
Communicate as a family about healthy technology usage. Are the apps interactive and thought-provoking, such as spending time in an interactive digital art program or brain building activity, or passive, such as scrolling through YouTube videos?
Watch for warning signs of too much technology use such as resistance to screen time limits, inability to sleep, and complaints of boredom when there is no access to technology.
Set screen-time limits to preserve time for activities away from technology. For example, set tech-free time during meals, limit the amount of time spent using each app, or set a “curfew” to turn screens off at a certain time on school nights.
Be a Role Model
We are all guilty of being drawn to the irresistible pull of technology. Whether it involves binging shows or checking social media platforms regularly, children are likely to emulate what they see and, oftentimes, feel like they are competing with devices for attention.
Parents can set boundaries for work and family time. The best times to unplug are during transitional times such as pick-up and drop-off times, after coming home from work, during meals and during family outings.
Use technology the way you want your child to. For example, avoid texting while driving.
Make Technology Usage a Family Affair
Set rules as a family. Setting limits as a family allows students to start learning how to self-regulate and know when their screen time is coming to an end.
Playing or watching content with your student allows you to vet the content they are accessing.
Allow your students to teach you how to use technology to build their confidence and keep you up to date on new digital experiences.
Upcoming District Events
Project Graduation Fall Carnival
Join us for an evening of food and fun while supporting Project Graduation.
Sat, Oct 22, 2022, 04:00 PM
Raymond Mays Middle School
TEEF Chili Cook-Off and Corn Hole Tournament
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 11:00 AM
Troy High School
Science on Saturday
Sponsored by the Troy High School chapter of the Workforce Industry Training (WIT) club, Science on Saturday is a showcase of interactive and hands-on science experiments designed for students from elementary school through high school. Come and see the many scientific displays and experiments.
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 11:00 AM
Troy High School
P.O. Box 409
#1 Trojan Road, Troy, TX 76579
Phone: (254) 938-2595
Fax: (254) 938-7323