Technology: Guidance for Families

10/11s Guidance

We recommend

  • Setting family expectations for use of internet, mobile applications, gaming, etc. Your child may come into contact with content that makes them uncomfortable and should be encouraged to talk to you about these situations.
  • Setting limits on children's daily screen time. Screen time includes any media - interactive or passive, done on a device such as a smartphone, handheld gaming device, tablet, laptop, computer or television. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen media time to 1 to 2 hours a day, and recommends discouraging screen media in children under the age of 2. The School for Children recommends no more than 1 hour of screen media time a day for 10/11s.  Many families choose no screen time for their children and we fully support this as well. 
  • Remembering that together time is about eye contact and communication, not being distracted by a device.
  • Modeling appropriate use of technology according to the rules in your home, for example no devices at the dinner table.
  • Keeping laptops, Internet devices and devices with webcams in public, highly visible spaces within your home and not in your child's own room.
  • Having conversations with other families about the use of technology during playdates and overnights.  It is helpful to disucss media/technology expectations with families that host your child for playdates and overnights and negotiate differences in advance. 
  • Your child may be increasingly independent when exploring the internet. You should monitor closely, such as by frequently checking browser history.
  • Your child should already know the difference between advertisements and the content they are viewing, but continue to talk about the ways they may be marketed to online, on television, within apps and on other devices.
  • Your child may continue to use iPods/iPads (or similar devices) independently. You should monitor closely and be aware of all applications, games, music and music videos installed.
  • 10/11s may be an appropriate time for your child to have his/her own iTunes account though federal guidelines do not recommend this. You should be aware of downloads and/or purchases. Consider the use of gift cards (over credit cards) to limit purchases.
  • Your child may independently explore videos on YouTube; however, you should know when and in what way your child is accessing the site. Have a conversation with your child about the ways YouTube automatically links to other videos or advertisements, some of which are inappropriate for 5th graders.
  • If you decide that your child is ready for the larger online gaming realm or other online communities, set up family expectations before allowing access and monitor your child's use.
  • Be aware of the chat feature of all online communities and monitor its use.
  • Skype or Facetime may be used to communicate with family and friends, but with your knowledge of with whom and when. 
  • Know the passwords to all of your child’s online accounts. Encourage creation of secure passwords (kids are surprisingly good at remembering them!) and the importance of changing them on an occasional basis.

We do not recommend

  • Personal email
  • Single sign-on features of certain online accounts
  • YouTube posting or commenting
  • Personal cell phones and smartphones
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media access
  • Blogging publicly
  • Foursquare and other location-based "check-in" services

Additional Thoughts

Use of computers and the Internet will be a regular part of your child’s day-to-day experience at Bank Street. Students will continue to use a school Google account and have access to Google Docs, which is to be used for school purposes only and with clear guidelines given by the School. 10/11s students will also have access to safe spaces online to explore their use of tone and voice, to take risks, make mistakes and receive guidance from the classroom community. Bank Street provides classroom web spaces for students to do this. Families are given read-only permission to these sites by requesting access from the child's teacher.

10/11s may be increasingly adept at exploring the internet independently. It is important that parents remain cognizant of all sites visited (such as by checking browser history frequently). Set boundaries about which internet sites are appropriate (and permissible) for your 10/11 and which are not. It is important to limit the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen, and thereby allow for creative (“free”) play, exercise, and other factors vital to your child’s development.

The School for Children may provide a restricted email account to students during the 10/11s school year, at the discretion of teachers, in conjuction with curriculum and lessons about digital privacy and online etiquette. This email account will be used to communicate with teachers and classmates about schoolwork and is limited to sending and receiving email within the school only.  10/11s teachers will communicate with families when these email accounts are activated.  We do not recommend unrestricted personal email accounts for students in the 10/11s. However, if you decide your child is ready for a personal email account, you should know the password and monitor the account closely. We recommend forwarding all incoming mail to your email account and take care to set up spam filtering. Note that a gmail account can be used as automatic registration for many other sites (i.e., if you have a gmail account, you also have a YouTube account). Again, be aware of all sites for which your child signs up.

10/11s may be interested in maintaining a blog. Blogs offer an opportunity to practice and share writing. If your child is interested in maintaining a blog, be sure to use one that allows you to control who can view the blog and enable comment moderation to prevent unwanted content from being posted. You can set up the blog account through you own email account to filter messages. Blogger and Wordpress are good options for 10/11s. Tumblr is not recommended because it is an image and video-based blogging system and has a reputation for questionable content.

Your child should be aware of the dangers (i.e., malware and viruses) of clicking on attachments, advertisements or links, especially if you child has a personal email account. oftentimes, advertisements or invites that seem too good to be true, such as, “Win an iPad 3! Click here!” can be tempting to 10/11s and can have harmful consequences.

Although some YouTube videos may be appropriate for viewing with an adult, we do not recommend your child post videos or comment on the site.

We do not recommend that 10/11s students have their own cell phones or smartphones. However, if you strongly believe a cell phone is necessary, we recommend your provide a cameraless "dumbphone" for your child and that they carry one in only necessary situations, only to be used to make phone calls, not for texting. This phone should never be in your child's bedroom overnight.

As your child opens up online accounts they are creating a digital footprint and should be mindful of the importance of maintaining a positive image online. Talk to your child about privacy and security. When it comes to personal information on the Internet, there is no such thing as private, only public and less public.