Top 10 tips for teaching about digital citizenship in the home

Families play a critical role in helping students get the most out of mobile phones, says Pamela Boal

Pamela Boal

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Teacher Pamela Boal wrote recently about why mobile phones should not be banned in schools.

She stresses, however, that pupils’ families must play a big role in helping negotiate the pitfalls and opportunities of the digital world.

These are her top 10 tips for teaching digital citizenship at home:

1. Know what your child is doing online – encourage open discourse and ask your children to tell you what apps they’re using at school and at home. 

2. Educate yourself – keep your own knowledge up to date and talk regularly as a family about current dangers and new technology.

3. Work with your children to set boundaries together – maybe you choose to have no phones at the table, or to decline new friendships that have no real-world contact.

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4. Monitor screen time – know what your own usage looks like and talk to the younger members of your family if you have any concerns about the amount of time they spend looking at screens.

5. Challenge your young people to use technology for good – raise money for charity, engage in political discourse, or support local projects.

6. Start a family group chat to keep in touch when you’re all out of the home and model responsible tech use by putting phones away when you’re all together.

7. Explore and talk about new technological developments – help your children to see computers as tools rather than goggle-boxes.

8. Engage in any online learning tools your school has to share and work with the school to support your child’s learning.

9. Be sure to highlight research and media-literacy skills – discuss "fake news" and how to spot it.

10. Encourage tech-free time – promote tech-positive balance by spending quality time together away from screens.

Pamela Boal is digital strategy coordinator at Morrison’s Academy in Perthshire, Scotland

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