Cyberbullying and digital citizenship are two vocabulary terms that Timber Ridge Elementary School staff members want parents to recognize and understand.
To provide Timber Ridge parents with the knowledge they need to protect their children in today’s digital world, school staff and parents joined together to offer the first Cyber Power information session for parents.
“I know that our parents are extremely invested in the well-being of their children. Yet, having a road map for how to talk about this topic is often not easily accessible. We are trying to change that with Cyber Power by giving the information that allows for a starting point to launch those discussions,” explained Joslin Maxwell, Timber Ridge school counselor.
According to Maxwell, elementary schools like Timber Ridge can help parents prevent their children from falling prey to the negative aspects of the digital world.
“The Cyber Power event gave parents the tools to go home and put a cell phone contract and an Internet safety contract in place,” Maxwell added.
The school provided both contracts to the parents so they could outline cyber safety rules for their children now.
“You want to make technology routines and expectations a priority from the very beginning, or else there will inevitably be push back when parents asks their high school students to let them look at their phones,” the Timber Ridge counselor cautioned.
Timber Ridge is also boosting cyber awareness among parents by encouraging families to take part in the “Stack Challenge” and put down their phones, tablets and laptops, and plug-in to quality family time.
The goal of the “Stack Challenge” is to remind parents that their use of technology is the greatest example to their children. Maxwell said parents should be part of creating the “balance is best” practice when using technology in the home.
Many of the students Maxwell talked to about the challenge feared it would be a difficult task for their parents.
“When I talked to one of my fourth grade classes about the challenge, I had a student tell me that their mom needed her phone at all times because they were remodeling the kitchen, and she needed to be able to always look at the pictures of the tiles,” Maxwell recalled. “The added awareness of just how much we are all using our screens is a valuable take-away.”
Timber Ridge parents appreciated that the school arranged the cyber information panel. Some of the comments from parents include:
- “Thank you! Excellent program, and I would love more because it feels like the tip of the iceberg. Lots of good action items to take home and work on already. Thank you again!”
- “Thank you so very much for putting this together. It was very well done and having the panel with the different perspectives was great. Just fantastic! I’d definitely make this an annual event.”
- “Great presentation. Very informative!”
According to surveys, the parents want to know more about how cyber predators find their prey, understanding gaming and app chat rooms, being up-to-date on the latest security settings and cyber dangers, and knowing how to talk to their kids about all of the above.
As a result, Timber Ridge is planning to host another parent night, dubbed Cyber Power 2.0, in May 2018.
Jeff Dess, Cobb County School District coordinator of prevention and intervention, will go more in depth on the topics covered during the first information session. Plus, there will be time to answer specific questions from parents in attendance.