July Technology 2017

Family Tip

Digital CitizenshipBellarmine is adapting curriculum from Common Sense Media to help our students prepare for their digital futures. In the iPad Orientation, we introduced our students to an adapted version of a lesson called "Our Digital Life 102." Ask your son or daughter about it. He or she can show it to you on MOODLE.

In this lesson, students reflected on their everyday uses of digital media. In addition to providing lesson plans to teachers, Common Sense Media produces tip sheets for parents. I have included the parent tip sheet below on digital life.

Common Sense on Digital Life

What’s the Issue?

We may think of our kids’ online, mobile, and technological activities as “digital life,” but to them, it’s just part of life. Their world is as much about creating media as it is about consuming it. Media devices have converged and become extremely powerful and portable. Phones aren’t simply for phone calls anymore but for listening to music, sending texts, filming videos, snapping and sharing photos, and accessing the Internet. Our kids use their computers to do their homework, but they also use them to socialize, stream videos, and create movies and songs. And they can connect and communicate 24/7 from just about any location.

Why Does It Matter?

We want our kids to make good decisions so they can take advantage of the powerful technology that fills their lives. But in order to make good choices, kids must know how the digital world works. The very nature of the constantly connected culture means kids must understand the concept of privacy, so that what they post and create won’t hurt or embarrass them at some point in the future. The fact that much of digital communication is anonymous means that consequences can be separated from actions, which can lead to irresponsible or disrespectful behavior. Much of the task of childhood and adolescence involves figuring out who you are. But in digital life, anything said or posted can live on indefinitely and create undesired consequences.

The stakes are high because our kids’ technological abilities can be greater than their maturity and judgment. Having unrestricted access to information and people can result in gaining a wealth of information and experiences. But it can also mean accessing inappropriate contact and content. The difference between a great experience and an iffy one lies in the decisions kids make. Just as kids learn to eat properly, swim safely, or drive a car carefully, they need to know how to live in the digital world responsibly and respectfully. Their ultimate success depends on their abilities to use digital media to create, collaborate, and communicate well with others. Those who master these skills in using digital tools will be able to harness the digital world’s awesome power.

Common Sense Media Says...

Teach kids the skills they need to use technology wisely and well. It’s hard to be a gatekeeper in a world with no fences. Parents have little control over the flow of information to their kids, who see too much, too soon. We no longer hear conversations or see what our kids create and share with others. Since we cannot cover their eyes, or shadow them everywhere they go, we need to teach them how to behave responsibly in the digital world.

Keep an open mind. We don’t see the world the way our kids do. And we don’t help our kids when we judge their lives through the lens of a non-digital world. It’s important for us to understand that our kids will spend much of their lives in a connected world, where everyone creates and communicates.

Don’t be afraid. Parents can’t afford to be technophobic. Our kids adopt technologies faster than we do. That means they’re often way out in front of us. This fact can upset the parent-child relationship. So get in the game. Have your kids show you how to do something online if you don’t already know. 

Share wisdom. Kids often don’t understand the implications of their actions. But we do. So we have to remember to extend our basic parenting wisdom to the digital world. We teach kids to choose their words carefully, play nicely with others, and respect their teachers. Now we have to extend those lessons to a vast, invisible world.

Pass along your values. One of the most important jobs of parenting is instilling in your kids the values you cherish. But in a digital world where actions are often divorced from consequences, where kids can be anonymous, and where they aren’t face to face with the people they communicate with, they can lose their way. As parents, we have to be able to translate our values into the digital world and help kids understand the implications of their actions.

Seek balance. It’s hard to know how much freedom to give kids. We want them to explore, enjoy, communicate, and create. We also want to be sure they are protected, or know how to protect themselves. If our kids are going to thrive with digital media, we must balance the negative with the positive, privacy with protection. As our children grow, they need more independence and privacy. But parents have to be sure their kids know how to be safe and responsible before letting them loose. Kids need to see both the possibilities and the perils of digital life, so they can act responsibly and seize all that is wondrous about digital media to enrich their lives. 

For a printable PDF of this tip sheet, click here.

July is the month we are distributing iPads and running our online student orientation. At this time, parents and students often have question about the restrictions that Bellarmine places on iPads. This has been a topic that generates confusion. My hope is that this page makes it clearer.

Where Do We Start? 

The iPads that you purchase from Bellarmine can be supervised by Bellarmine before they are sent home. This gives us the ability to add and remove different restrictions. We start by turning most of the restrictions on for freshmen. This configures the iPad to work well for school work. There are very few options for social media, games and other entertainment. Limiting the iPads to functions that support school work generally help our students stay more focused using the iPad for learning.

If you get home with your iPad and you find the restrictions too limiting, contact the IT department with a request to loosen the restrictions. We can change the restriction settings from our office. If the iPad is connected to the Internet, the new settings will take effect quickly, usually in less than a minute.

If you purchased your iPad from a source other than Bellarmine, we can still restrict it's use. Parents wanting restrictions added can bring their iPad to the Technology Support Center in the south wing of the Admin building. We are open from 08:00 to 15:00 (3 pm), M-F all summer. I should warn you. In order to apply these restrictions, it is necessary to wipe the iPad.

Bellarmine manages iPad resttrictions using a mobile device management system (MDM) from Cisco-Meraki. Part of this MDM is an iPad app called Meraki Systems Manager. This tool allows us to restrict the iPads, or to remove restrictions when parents ask. See the next tab at the top of the page for a disclosure statement about the Meraki Systems Manager.

iPad Restriction Settings

Bellarmine restrictions include the following three areas. These restrictions greatly reduce the distractions on the iPads, as well as prevent some common forms of cheating.

  1. Access to the App Store is blocked. School approved apps are available in the Meraki Systems Manager app.
  2. Use of FaceTime for making video calls is blocked.
  3. Use of iMessage for sending text messages is blocked.
  4. The default AppleID does not allow purchases online. You will have to enter your own personal AppleID to make purchases, such as digital text books. You do not have to create an AppleID for your son or daughter if you would rather not do so. You do not have to store a credit card on the school iPad.

Internet Filters 

Bellarmine uses a filtering system on campus that limits Internet access. One set of filters protects students from harmful Internet content in accordance with the Federal CIPA law (Children's Internet Protection Act). The other set of filters increase productivity by limiting access to entertainment. 

Bellarmine does filter or monitor iPad Internet use when students take their devices off campus. There are an increasing number of choices for services that parents can purchase that filter and monitor your families Internet use. I would leave you with a link from SafeFamilies.org to get you started. You can "Google" this topic for additional information.

As a parent of a teen using technology, you are probably questioning whether your son or daughter is ready for so much responsibility. You are right to do so, and you are certainly not alone. Never before in history have young people been given so much responsibility with powerful communication tools as they are today. Our teens require our wisdom and guidance, some more than others.

One effective approach families can take to discuss, explore and express family values is to decide how technology use should be limited. Are there times when or places where using cell phones, tablets or computers is inappropriate? What does appropriate use of social media look like? How much screen time is appropriate when balanced against the other activities of one's day.  Should anyone sleep with technology? Why or why not?

The questions above will get you started, but they are only a beginning. I have offered an annotated list of sources below to help you deepen the discussion. I'm not making a broad endorsement of these sites personally, or on behalf of Bellarmine. I offer them because they will get you thinking about the responsibilities involved in 21 Century parenting, and I hope you find them helpful.

Title & Web Address (URL)


Teens And Tech Boundaries: Knowing And Setting Limits Stephanie Newman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, writes about parenting, teens, bullying, and technology.
Setting Limits on Technology: What’s Best for My Family?  Dr. Jesse Matthews, PA & Licensed Psychologist discusses some of the healthy boundaries that can be set regarding technology use.
How Can I Rein In My Teenager’s Technology? The writer offers parents of teens some practical advice for setting limits on technology use for families on the Your Teen for Parents web site.
Setting Computer Limits, Tips  Author Caroline Knorr writes for Common Sense Media on the topic of technology addiction. Perhaps addiction is an extreme case. However, considering the extreme can help a parent to set reasonable limits and to know when setting limits may not be enough.
Ways for parents to ease tussle with teens over tech use Julie Weed writes for the Seattle Times about strategies parents can use to guide teens through technology temptations.
10 Tips for Setting Limits on Electronics and Screen Time for Kids The writers at About.Com cut to the chase with 10 rules that families can use to set reasonable technology limits.