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Do You Know What Your Son Is Up To Online?

posted Jan 10, 2018, 11:30 PM by Kim Stuart   [ updated Jan 18, 2018, 3:31 PM ]
There are two possible paths before us — one in which we destroy what is great about the Internet and about how young people use it, and one in which we make smart choices and head toward a bright future in a digital age…. On one of these paths, we seek to constrain their creativity, self-expres
sion, and innovation in public and private spheres; on the other, we embrace these things while minimizing the dangers that come with the new era. 
- John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

Teens do not remember a time without iPhones and social media. They are history's first digital natives, so to help parents navigate the new reality for kids, Town held the Teens and Technology event on December 7, 2017. Several parents gathered with Laura Donahue, Upper School Parent Catalyst, and Kim Stuart, Director of Library Services, to explore the role of technology in teens' lives. The goal of the evening was to equip parents with knowledge about what teens might be doing online in order to help them make smart choices. 

Teens and Technology December 7, 2017

First the group learned about terms like "swatting" and "FINSTA," and Laura shared findings from Common Sense Media's Cyberbullying & Digital Drama: Mean by Mistake presentation. The biggest takeaway was that there exists a paradox: technology use is linked to teen depression and insomnia, while also contributing to feelings of innovation and social connection. There seems to be a fine line between technology use and abuse, and it is up to parents and educators to lead children to make positive choices. 

Then event participants read scenarios in small groups based on real events and discuss ways to address common problems teens face. One particularly poignant scenario involved a hypothetical student who was exhibiting addictive behavior to video games, which caused him to become isolated from family and peers. Solutions to this problem was simply to have devices in a common area near other family members. The common thread for all strategies across scenarios was to promote transparency, establish boundaries, and spark conversation between teens and adults. 

Town believes that teen technology use is best navigated through proactive conversations with and preemptive guidelines from the adults in teens' lives. Town has many resources to support this and hope that you will join us at future events further exploring this topic. Please reach out to Matt Mena-Landry, Director of Educational Technology, Kim Stuart, Director of Library Services, or Laura Donahue and Keval Desai, Town School Parent Catalysts, if you have questions. 

Events - 
  • Common Sense Media's San Francisco Teen Panel: Notes to My Middle School Self on January 18, 2018, 8:30am – 10am, at Town (register here)
  • Lower School Kids and Technology will be oFebruary 28, 2018, 6pm – 7pm; please check your email for more details on that closer to the date. 
Online resources -