Technology: Guidance for Families

9/10s Guidance

We recommend

  • 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 limiting exposure to no more than 1 hour of screen media time a day for 9/10s.  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 discuss media/technology expectations with families that host your child for playdates and overnights and negotiate differences in advance. 
  • Children may be increasingly independent when exploring the Internet. You should monitor closely, such as by frequently checking browser history.  
  • Children may continue to use iPods/iPads (or similar devices) independently at the discretion of adults. Adults should monitor closely and be aware of all applications and games that are installed, as well as "in-app purchases" and other media that is purchased/downloaded or viewed including music and videos.
  • iTunes is an application which allows individuals to listen to and watch media. With an iTunes account, individuals can access the iTunes Store, which requires a credit card to authorize purchases. 9/10s may be at an appropriate age to decide which music and media they would like to download, though federal guidelines do not recommend children under the age of 13 have his/her own iTunes account.  Consider the use of gift cards (over credit cards) to limit purchases and be aware of all downloads and purchases if you opt to allow this.
  • Videos available on YouTube may be appropriate for your child. You should supervise your child's access to this site. Your child should only visit the site and watch videos you have previewed. Have a conversation with your child about the ways YouTube automatically links to other videos or advertisements, some of which are inappropriate for 9/10s.
  • Children 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.
  • Some 9/10s will show an interest in online gaming. If you believe that your child is ready for the larger online gaming realm or other online communities beyond Webkinz, Minecraft and Club Penguin, set up family expectations before allowing access. Know every online community your child is a member of and engage your child in conversations about their participation in these online gaming communities. Be sure your child knows to inform you of any content they encounter that makes them uncomfortable.  Visit Common Sense Media to see educator and age level ratings for games your child is interested in playing. 
  • Be aware of the chat feature of all online communities and monitor its use.
  • Children may use Skype or Facetime 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

  • Email
  • Single sign-on features of certain online accounts including social media connected apps and games. (Single sign-on refers to a website's ability to remember a password and allow users access to multiple independent but related websites without signing in separately)
  • YouTube posting or commenting
  • Computers or devices in children's bedrooms
  • Personal cell phones and smartphones (see Additional Thoughts for more on this topic)
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media access
  • Blogging (e.g., Tumblr)
  • Foursquare and other location-based services
  • Using screen devices routinely to entertain your child when she/he has to wait. Children develop self regulation better through books, drawing, I-spy games and other engaging offline activities.

Additional Thoughts

Students in the 9/10s will begin to use computers as part of their day-to-day experience at Bank Street. Students in the 9/10s learn the foundations of touch typing and practice regularly throughout the year. Halfway through the school year, teachers plan to give students access to their own restricted student Google account providing access to Google Docs, which will be used for school purposes only, with clear guidelines given by the School. Teachers introduce 9/10s to touch-typing using Bank Street's online subscription to Typing Pal. 9/10s should practice touch typing using Typing Pal at home as instructed by their teachers. While 9/10s students are not expected to type homework, the tools students are exposed to in school will provide a foundation for further technology use in the 10/11s.

We do not offer students access to a Bank Street email account until the 11/12s and, therefore, do not recommend it for students in the 9/10s. However if, you deem a child 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 taking 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.

9/10s may be increasingly adept at exploring the Internet independently. It is important that you remain cognizant of all sites visited (such as by checking browser history frequently). Set boundaries about which Internet sites are appropriate (and permissible) and which are not for your child. Devices should be kept in highly visible spaces within your home and not in your child's own room. It is important to set limits on the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen, and to allow for creative play, exercise and family activities vital to his/her development.

Your child should be aware of the dangers (i.e., malware and viruses) of clicking on attachments, advertisements or links, especially if your 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 especially tempting to 9/10s and can have harmful consequences.

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

We do not recommend that 9/10s students have their own cell phone or smartphone. 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.

As a final note, although we do not recommend children have their own social media profiles (e.g., Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds), older family members may. Be mindful of your child's exposure and the ways your young child is portrayed online and avoid leaving a digital footprint that may have unintended consequences, both now and later in life.