CHCA Tech Newsletter

Parent Edition - updated March 2016

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Microsoft Office - FREE!

Great news for students (and parents)! Through CHCA's subscription to Office 365, students can now download and install the latest version of Microsoft Office for free, on up to 5 different devices. For PC users, this will currently install as Office 2016. For Mac users, the latest version is Office 2011. This service should remain free for students moving forward, and should always offer the latest version of Office on either platform.

To access the installation*, the student will need to log in to Office 365 using the link on the CHCA homepage for student email, or by manually navigating to mail.chca-oh.org. Once logged in and seeing their mailbox or OneDrive, click the Gear icon in the upper right (next to the student's name or photo) and choose 'Office 365 Settings' from the resulting list. On the Office 365 Settings page, click 'Software' on the left. There, you will see the option to install the latest version of Office.

*For Elementary grades that do not have email accounts, the best path for logging in and accessing the Office installation is: portal.office.com

We are very excited to be able to offer this critical software to our students at no charge. Spread the word!

The Parent Imperative

Welcome to the CHCA Technology Newsletter, parents! While the faculty and staff at CHCA strive to create the best possible education experience for our students, we also recognize that as a parent you are undoubtedly the most influential guide and teacher in the lives of your children. Technology in education used to be a rare treat, but over time it has slowly begun to permeate every aspect of our daily lives - at school and at home.

For some parents, technology can be intimidating and overwhelming. This e-newsletter is an effort to make some sense out of the chaos, inform you about important tech issues, and hopefully create some healthy dialogue and habits when it comes to technology in the lives of today's youth. With the right information, you can then be more intentional in educating, equipping, and encouraging your children to positively influence the world for Christ - even through their use of technology.

Technology Is Everywhere

Technology has dramatically changed in the last ten years. This can be illustrated with just one device. The cell phone used to only make phone calls. Today, it makes calls, holds massive song libraries, houses purchased ebooks, organizes multiple calendars, contains many family photos taken over the past year, functions as a calculator, holds maps, works as a GPS, organizes contact information for nearly EVERYONE you've ever known, has the Bible available in multiple languages, can be a scanner, accesses countless news outlets, and so much more.


If you need further convincing, check out the video below which was created in the fall of 2009.


Did You Know 4.0

Legalities

Laws and regulations are sometimes boring, and often even more mind-numbing to read. But, they exist and are designed for protection. In case you are interested in learning more, below are some of the major legislations and regulations that guide the school's decisions when it comes to technology and your children:


CIPA - Children's Internet Protection Act
Enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. This is why we filter certain web content such as YouTube and facebook, etc.

COPPA - Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
Websites that are collecting information from children under the age of 13 are required to comply with this Act from the FTC, designed to help protect their identity.

CHCA Acceptable Use Policy
Parameters for Internet use in the spirit of the Christian mission and core values of the school.


In the end, it is important for students (or anyone for that matter) to be aware of and protect their digital footprint. Emails, social media postings, screenshots, cellular pictures and videos - all potentially published online. These days nothing that goes online is truly private, and once it is online - it is virtually impossible to unpublish, unsend, or remove it. So, be careful out there - learn about the laws and the dangers, lead your peers to do the same, and serve this world with a positive digital footprint. You know you want to.

Safety At Home

Interested in filtering your home Internet? Maybe looking for a way to monitor what your student is doing on their personal mobile device? Below are some excellent options to consider. There are many products and services available in this arena, so if the following list doesn't meet your needs then it's time to use Google or Bing to search for "home internet filter," "home device monitor," or whatever other search criteria prove to be important to you.

OpenDNS - Parental Controls
-The FamilyShield option is Free
-Home VIP adds more bells and whistles for a Fee

Mobicip - Parental Control Service for Mobile Devices
-Some parts are free, but most desirable features come with annual subscription fee
-Also provides the same features for Windows for an annual subscription fee

Safe Eyes - Safe Internet Browser
-Filtering and reporting for an annual subscription fee
-Works with Mac and PC


Social Media & Apps

Social media sites and apps are a major attractor with today's students. Much like anything in our world, they can be used for good but can also be used for bad. The social media scene itself is not inherently bad - just like being social with friends in the non-digital world is not bad. What you do when being social, however, and who you choose to be social with are things to consider. Likewise, the venue you choose to be social in needs to be considered. Overall, we think social media can be great when used responsibly. In light of that, here are some things you might want to know about some of the more popular social media sites and apps in use today:

Instagram
-The age restriction for an account is 13
-Instagram is not COPPA compliant
-Unless you deliberately alter the settings, the default is set to Public (everyone)

facebook
-The age restriction for an account is 13
-"Friend" list - statistically, 46% of facebook users accept friend requests from total strangers

kik
-This is a texting app
-The age restriction for downloading the app is 17
-The kik app keeps no history
-It is easy to create fake identities

Snapchat
-Becoming known as the sexting app
-The age restriction for an account is 12+

ask.fm
-The age restriction for an account is 13
-Ask questions with anonymity
-Associated with cyberbullying
-Linked to 5 teen suicides in the past 6 months


This is just a sampling - many sites and apps come and go on a regular basis. In the end, it's important to be involved and know what social media sites and apps your students are using. Then, be intentional about learning more about the app for yourself (age restrictions, negative press, etc.) and discuss responsible usage with your child.

Outside of Google and Bing searches, here are a few sites that might help with App Reviews:

yoursphere for Parents
Helping Families Live Healthy Digital Lives

common sense media
Great overall site for all things media related - keeps you informed and helps facilitate healthy discussions with your child

Just remember - kids are kids, and they are naturally social and curious. Staying informed and keeping the lines of communication open are the best way to be a positive influence with your children in the social media and app arena.


What Other Parents Say...

Here are some usage suggestions from other parents - some of them reiterating what's already been said above. They may not all apply to your situation, but will hopefully at least get you thinking.

  1. Set Restrictions on devices (for example, no devices in bedrooms, no devices at the dinner table, etc.)
  2. Observe age restrictions on sites and apps
  3. Monitor access to email and social media sites
  4. Filter the internet
  5. Turn off the device's Location Services
  6. Institute a technology curfew
  7. Charge devices in a safe, central location
  8. Collect phones and other devices at sleepovers or other student gatherings
  9. Look at the device(s) regularly
  10. Keep the dialogue going with your student about their device usage and their digital footprint. (not to suggest accusations or interrogations, but creating healthy, open conversation that will help guide them down the right path)


Thanks

Thanks for taking the time to read through the newsletter. We hope it has been valuable. Thank you for your commitment and involvement in your students' lives. Thanks for making the CHCA Community the special place that it is.

Suggestions?

-Was there something you were hoping to see in this e-Newsletter that was missing?
-Do you have an idea for an upcoming topic that would be good to cover in this forum?

Let me know! There are many ways to contact me below. I welcome the feedback and ideas for future topics!