Technology: Guidance for Families

12/13s Guidance

We recommend:

  • Engaging your child in conversation about online activities on a regular basis. 
  • Setting family expectations for use and time spent on the internet, mobile applications, gaming, etc.
  • 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 when children spend time in one another's homes.  It is helpful to disucss media/technology expectations with families that host your child and negotiate differences in advance. 
  • Periodically review your child’s browser history. 
  • 12/13s should check their Bank Street email on a daily basis. 
  • You should be aware of any personal email accounts your child maintains.
  • Generally, you should abstain from reading your child’s email, however if you have concerns about your child's use of email, or have concerns from past or current experiences, bring those concerns up with your child.  You should still preserve the role of monitoring email when necessary. 
  • Encourage creation of secure passwords and the importance of changing them on an occasional basis. Your child should not use the same password for all their accounts.
  • Facebook and other social media sites may be appropriate for 12/13s. The decision to allow a child to participate in a social media site should be made by adults in the family. Use of these sites should only occur with your full knowledge.  You should friend or follow your child on any social media site you permit them to join and you should be aware of the age restrictions and privacy settings for all social media sites you permit your child to join.
  • 12/13s may be an appropriate time for your child to have his/her own iTunes account. Consider the use of gift cards (over credit cards) to limit purchases.
  • 12/13s 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)
  • Check your child's video content before they post to YouTube and ensure privacy settings and comment moderation are enabled to prevent personal information from being revealed. 
  • Before using single sign-on (a website's ability to remember a password and allow users access to multiple independent but related websites without signing in separately), your child should verify the integrity of a site and read what permissions are being given when agreeing to single sign-on.  
  • Your child may be ready for a personal cell or smart phone, but it should not be kept in your child’s bedroom overnight.
  • Skype or Facetime may be used to communicate with family and friends. Your child should be mindful of their privacy settings to avoid unwanted contact with strangers. 

We do not recommend:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media access
  • Ask.fm or other online anonymous posting sites
  • Foursquare and other location-based services

Additional Thoughts: 

12/13s continue to develop their online skills and awareness under the guidance of Bank Street faculty. In the 12/13s, students continue to receive access to the Google Apps for Education tools, including a restricted Bank Street email account which can only send and receive email from within the Bankstreet domain. 

In the 12/13s, the Internet takes on an even more important role for students as more of their academic work requires a technological component. Under close faculty guidance, students will learn best practices for Internet research, participating in online discussions and using various other tools for expressing themselves as learners. They will create online content that may be shared outside the Bank Street community, for example, Romeo and Juliet character blogs.

Your child may be interested in creating her/his own email account and using it to register for accounts in other places online, including game sites and social media sites.  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. 

Because teachers spend a significant amount of time educating students about online behavior and safety, 12/13s students are expected to become more independent in their technology use. Developmentally, 12/13s 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.  

12/13s need breaks from being connected and have trouble setting these boundaries for themselves. So while 12/13s may be ready for a personal cell or smart phone, it should not be kept in the bedroom overnight. An iPod Touch or similar device may be a good alternative to a smart or cell phone, depending on the plan for use.

While the use of Instagram is not recommended, if you give permission for your child to use Instagram, photos should be set to private and the geotag function should be disabled. Similarly, given the safety concerns around Foursquare, 12/13s usage is not recommended.

12/13s are ready to begin creating their online persona and might be ready to try online activities such blogging and gaming. It is important that your child maintain appropriate levels of privacy. While it might be alright for family and friends to know your child’s identity online, your child’s identity should remain private from the larger world. Other steps, such as enabling comment moderation to limit which comments get posted on a blog and removing the blog from search engine results, can also help protect your child from unintended consequences.

Many sites, including Facebook, require users be 13 years old. Pay careful attention to privacy settings on all social accounts, and families should have discussions about online content and behavior. You should maintain clear expectations for your child’s participation in social media and set limits when necessary. Given the way that social media sites can create a digital footprint for a child, it is particularly important for you to closely monitor your child’s activity by friending or following him or her. Regular discussions with your child about these sites and their activities is also important to their developmental growth. However, you are the ultimate decision-makers in how, when and where your child spends time online.