Tech Balanced Life

Balance isn't Something You Find - It's Something You Create

Join me each month for a new Digital Discussion...

In this April issue:

  • 📱 Setting Limits: Instagram, Snapchat & TikTok - all or nothing?
  • 🏠 Digital Discussions: Social Media Footprint and Responsibility
  • 🚫 App of the Month: Discord
  • 🌄 Unplugged Tech Fun: Rube Goldberg Machines


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SETTING LIMITS: Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok

If you have read my last two posts on Setting Limits you know we have tackled setting up limits on your child's device, choosing an internet browser with safe search options, and gotten after YouTube's filters, now comes the BIG question...


How do you restrict content and set limits on Social Media?


First, the good news. When you set up their devices with parental controls you have an option to limit their time on social media. Your child's device will blackout these types of accounts once they hit their limit. In my house that is an hour a day for kids aged 13+.


Now, the more complicated part...how do you control the content they see in the time frame you've set up? And, how do you make sure that strangers do not have access to them through the apps?


The short answer is that it is VERY hard to control the content on social media. That is because the content is only created moments before it is available for viewing. The apps themselves monitor content but can't do much until they are notified of something that is against their (often lax) policies. Each app has a "report" feature but that only does a limited amount of good once you've seen the questionable content.


You can make sure that your child's accounts are set to private, however, and that is something that everyone should do right away so that the content they post is not attracting unwanted attention.


PRIVACY SETTINGS

INSTAGRAM:

Proflie>Options>Account>Privacy<Private Account

Location defaults to off but will ask you if you want to turn it on when you post a picture.

Your child can change these settings at any time. You may choose to share an account with your child so you both have access to the same settings and they have accountability in their actions. I have three Instagram accounts in my family. A new feature released last month blocks users over 18 years of age from contacting accounts of children under the age of 18 through Direct Message (DM). Instagram is relying on users to give their accurate age when signing up. The best bet is still a private account.


SNAPCHAT

Profile Pic (top left)>Settings Icon (top right)>WHO CAN..>Contact Me/View My Story/See My Location/See Me in Quick Add

Snapchat defaults to "Friends or those you've added" which is good, but make sure the settings are where you want them. In my opinion, you want them to say, My Friends or Only Me. If your child has a phone number make sure you click on it also and turn off the "let others find me" option. I would also click Notification and turn them off. Note: Your child can change these back at any time so a, "trust but verify", policy is very important.


TIKTOK:

Me icon>three dots (top right)>Privacy>Toggle to Private Account

There is a unique feature in TikTok that allows you to set up Family Pairing. This will join your account to your child's account, allow you to set restricted mode, and set time limits within the app itself.

Family Pairing> +AddAccount> you will be directed to open your child's account and scan the QR code provided.


CONTENT SETTINGS

Even though we can't monitor content by changing the settings of an app there are still many things we can do as parents to make sure the content on our kid's devices is as safe as possible.


  • Friend Them
  • Link Accounts
  • Encourage Open Conversations
  • Only Allow Social Media on Computers
  • Check Their Search History
  • View Their Profile
  • Use Apps like Bark ($) or KidLogger (Free)


For more on each of these ideas check out this article from Mom.com. We use a "trust but verify" model at our house. Kids need to know, as an excuse when they are tempted, that you may randomly ask for their device. I tell my kids I do it as a favor so that when they are tempted they can think or say, "better not, mom may check my phone."

For more information on Snapchat and Pornography, click here.


Good luck my friends!

DIGITAL DISCUSSION: Social Media Footprints & Our Responsabilities

As a Catholic school teacher, St. Isidore of Seville’s picture hangs in the front of my Technology classroom in the hope that he will bless our minds and hearts. As the patron saint of the internet, Isadore is often called, “The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages'' because of an encyclopedia he wrote in the 6th century that was used as a textbook for over 9 centuries. He was the living “Google'' of his day. His feast day was April 4th and we have used this month in Technology to focus on the lessons we can learn about our online behaviors from a man who lived over 1400 years ago.


Known as a brilliant bishop in his day, Isadore was also known for preaching about the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. He knew that acquiring knowledge in the traditional sense meant reading and study. He was more interested, however, in gaining wisdom which he said only came from God. His advice was to cultivate a habit of prayer where we could speak to God but also make a habit of reading the Bible diligently so that we could hear God speaking back to us. It was in listening to God, he preached, that one gained wisdom.


The continued need for his advice in our modern world is striking. We have access to more knowledge than ever but sometimes lack the wisdom to know what, or how, to use it for good in the world. We would do well to take Isadore’s advice of praying and listening to God.


I had the privilege this week to speak to our students, not just about Isadore’s life but also our need for wisdom when we make decisions about our online habits. We refer to a person’s online life as their Digital Footprint. In the younger grades, we discussed how someone might get mad at a video game and call us a name we don’t like and how we should handle that situation by telling a trusted adult. We also discussed what to do if we are the mad ones so that we don’t think it’s ok to behave in a manner online that we wouldn’t IRL (in real life). Ideally, our Digital Footprint would represent the best version of ourselves.


In the older grades, the conversations are more specific, and even more necessary. I spent time this week with our amazing middle school students discussing their Digital Footprints, and specifically how their Social Media Footprints represent them as people online and in real life. We discussed their personal responsibilities and ways they can guard their footprint by not oversharing, taking time to pause before posting, and an appreciation for how fast anything they share can be shared again. We also discussed what responsibilities they have to others when using social media. Those responsibilities include virtues like honesty, kindness, humility, and patience, and what they can do to make the world a better place. We also discussed when/how to ask for help if they see something upsetting.


We have awesome students who strive to learn and be their best selves on a daily basis. It is an honor to walk with them on their journey. It is my hope that through discussions like these, in partnership with families, and through conversation with our merciful God, we will all move closer to living holy wisdom-filled lives, both online and off.

App of the month: DISCORD

A chat-text tool aimed at online gamers. Not inherently dangerous if accounts are private, but monitor closely. Click here ^ for a Review from CSM.

UNPLUGGED TECH: Rube Goldberg Machines

Click here ^ To learn about the history and future of these famous machines

Build Your Own Rube Goldberg Machine

Click here ^ for The ultimate unplugged STEM activity for families

Meet the Teacher: Christine Lemmon

  • K-8 Technology Teacher Specializing in Google, Code.org, and Common Sense Media.
  • Wife to one and mom to six, ages 7-24.
  • Passionate about technology, but equally passionate about helping individuals and families find an appropriate mix of content and time management to optimize their lives both online and off.

GOALS

  • To help students and parents become not just Digital Citizens, but Digital Leaders; not just Content Consumers, but Content Creators.
  • To reinforce Skill Sets and Demeanors that help families manage technology.
  • Provide practical tips for content management at every level; app, device, network, & server.

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I am so happy we are on this journey, let me know if you have any questions or ideas for future newsletters.


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Past Issues of this Newsletter

February: Safe Device Settings & Digital Discussions --- March: YouTube Safty & Texting