Technology: Guidance for Families

11/12s Guidance

We recommend

  • Setting family expectations for use and time spent on the Internet, mobile applications, gaming, etc. 
  • Reviewing your child’s browser history on a consistent basis.
  • 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 and negotiate differences in advance. 
  • 11/12s should check their Bank Street email on a daily basis.
  • Monitor your child's personal email to ensure you know who the senders/recipients are, and that the tone and content are appropriate.
  • 11/12s may be ready for personal email accounts outside Bank Street, at your discretion.
  • Encourage creation of secure passwords and the importance of changing them on an occasional basis.
  • 11/12s may be an appropriate time for your child to have a personal 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.
  • 11/12s may blog but should take appropriate privacy measures. Comment moderation should be enabled for any child’s blog. (Allows comments to be approved before they are posted)
  • 11/12s may independently explore videos on YouTube. Have a conversation with your child about the ways YouTube automatically links to other videos or advertisements, some of which are inappropriate.
  • 11/12s may be ready for a personal cell phone, but a cameraless "dumbphone" is appropriate, and it should not be kept in your child’s bedroom overnight.
  • Skype or Facetime may be used to communicate with family and friends, but with your knowledge of with whom and when.

We do not recommend

  • Smartphones
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media access
  • Foursquare and other location-based services
  • YouTube posting or commenting

Additional Thoughts

The transition to the 11/12s provides students with the chance to develop their online skills and awareness under the guidance of Bank Street faculty. In the 11/12s, students are given access to the Google Apps for education suite of tools, including a Bank Street email account, which is limited to sending and receiving messages from teachers and students within our school only. Most academic classes will require online research and participation, and students will have many opportunities to explore the Internet both inside and outside the classroom. Because teachers spend a significant amount of time educating students about online behavior and safety, 11/12s students are expected to become more independent in their technology use. Developmentally, 11/12s benefit from having 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.

A personal gmail account can be used as automatic registration for many other sites, though the school does limit the ability of students to access some of these sites with their Bank Street account because they are restricted from sending mail outside of our domain. You should be aware of all sites to which your child signs up and you should monitor your child's use of these sites regularly.

While 11/12s may be ready for a personal cell phone, it should not be kept in the bedroom overnight. Smartphones, with unlimited access to social media, Internet and gaming, are not recommended. 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. An iPod Touch or similar device may be a good alternative to a smart or cell phone.

11/12s are ready to begin creating an online persona and might be ready to try online activities such blogging and gaming. It is important that your child maintains appropriate levels of privacy. While it might be alright for family and friends to know your child’s identity online, it should remain private from the larger world. Other steps, such as enabling comment moderation to control which comments get posted on a blog and removing the blog from search engine results, can also help prevent blogs from being publicly searched.

11/12s need breaks from always being connected and have trouble setting these boundaries for themselves. Set clear expectations about the amount of time your child can use devices and set a "screens off" time to ensure downtime for your child. Devices should not be in children's bedrooms overnight.

Despite the technological opportunities afforded them during this transition year, many 11/12 students may not be ready to fully engage in the world of social media and you should ultimately determine how your child may engage in technology outside of school. Families should have clear expectations for internet usage and online participation, and you should not allow unlimited access to technology. It is also important to note federal guidelines regarding internet accounts and privacy. Many sites, including Facebook and iTunes, require users be 13 years old, thereby excluding most 11/12s. You are the ultimate decision-makers in how, when and where your child spends time online.