By Robert S. Perry
One of the greatest advances in education in modern times is the use of personal electronic devices like cell phones and tablets inside and outside the classroom. Students have a world of knowledge at their fingertips and tools to help make learning and collaboration easier. But along with such advances, there are as many concerns. As a teenager or the parent of a teenager, you are probably more than aware of the issues surrounding the use of social media by adolescents. In recent years, the number of kids who are active on social media has grown to nearly 90% in the United States. With so many kids using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, the chance for a kid to be engaged in a difficult situation is always lurking.
At MMS this year, we have found that many of the difficult social situations that kids have experienced have been made worse because of social media. A great number of students at MMS have phones and many more are active on social media. Social media is a fact of life (after reading this, we hope you will check out the MMS Facebook page!) so parents have to make the monitoring of their child’s social media usage a priority. To make matters more difficult, recent surveys show that 67% of teenagers say they know how to hide what they do online from their parents. To help keep our kids safe, we ask all parents to be sure to check your kids’ social media sites and texts, set limits, and encourage honest conversations. It is probably one of the most difficult things you do as a parent, not only because of the amount of time and investigating it can take, but also because you are probably trying to give your child more freedom as a middle school student. Nonetheless, please make it a priority. It may help alleviate some difficult situations for your child. And let’s not forget that what happens online doesn’t just disappear. It can stay with a kid for a long time.
With that said, let’s turn to some positives. Please encourage your child to use learning apps as part of their everyday screentime. Apps like Quizlet and Math Vocabulary Cards by The Math Learning Center are a great way to practice acquiring skills. With Google Docs, students can collaborate with peers on projects, type up essays, and analyze spreadsheets. All MMS students have a free Google account. If your child does not have an account yet, a notification will be coming home soon. That Google account will also allow your student access to Google Classroom, an online learning platform that MMS teachers have just begun to use. With Google Classroom, students can submit work to teachers, collaborate with peers, look up assignments, and see feedback on assignments. Look for an article about Google Classroom later in this newsletter.
Thank you for helping to keep our school safe and for promoting learning with technology. We are all pretty new at this (even the kids who have lived in a technology-filled world their entire life) and we are learning together about how to best make technology work for us. Please keep the lines of communication open with your children and with teachers as we work to make MMS a better place for learning.