Dear Morris School District Community,

In the spirit of the ongoing partnership between our district administration and our students' families, I write to you to call attention to an important issue that may arise in the coming weeks.  

Over the last few years, immediately following the Winter Break we have seen in our schools a substantial increase in HIBs (that is, incidents of harassment, intimidation, or bullying) involving social media use,  as well as a frequent correlation between the acquisition of new digital devices and a worsening of students' academic performance. Accordingly, the purpose of this communication is to offer our support in helping your child transition to his/her digital device if you have purchased one.  If you haven't, I highly recommend you consider the "Wait Until 8th" pledge (link below), which encourages parents to wait until their children are developmentally and emotionally mature enough to better handle the many implications of owning and using cell phones as well as having access to social media accounts. Regardless of whether your child currently uses a digital device or will soon do so, the holiday break is a good time to perform a digital wellness check up and review with your child your expectations as well as safe practices for the connected world. Please consider the following tips and resources below.
  • Take the time to set limits, discuss your family's rules and reflect on overall digital health with your child(ren)
  • Review school policies and code of conduct/student handbooks on cell phones and internet-able devices (links below)
  • Discuss the social, messaging and geolocation capabilities of online games and apps
As part of our district-wide curriculum, all students in grades K-12 are taught digital citizenship and the safe use of the internet through the Common Sense Media Curriculum, and we encourage you to access the parent resources that Common Sense has to offer.

Below you will find additional resources that may be helpful as you and your family take the time to reflect on your digital wellness.

Wishing you a safe and happy new year,

Mackey Pendergrast
Superintendent of Schools
Help your children monitor & manage screen time.
It's easy to spend hours on a device, especially when it's new.  Use these  
guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics  and these  strategies  from Common Sense Media to help your children learn to monitor and manage their screen time.

Superintendent BOE Presentation 

Digital Citizenship Resources for Families: