from your St. Matthew's Technology Ambassadors

Lori Getz returned to St. Matthew's and presented to students in grades 4-8 about finding balance in a digital world. Students had the opportunity to hear expert advice and engage in discussions on topics such as online safety, social media and self-identity. As Parent Technology Ambassadors, we thought it would be helpful to create a list of Highlights ( points and takeaways) that stood out to us from her various presentations. 
FORNITE FEVER by Roz Neiman, mother of three boys in 6th, 8th & 10th grades and a girl in 4th

Overview:  This highly addictive shooting game has taken the world by storm and taken many of our boys with it. While there are some very compelling aspects of this game (teamwork, strategy, survival skills, building, awesome dance moves), the main focus is to collect weapons, kill other players and be the last one/team standing. Because there is no blood or gore, it has a 13+ rating, but keep in mind that shooting games were initially created to desensitize soldiers to killing enemies on the front lines. This sustained “fight or flight" response can cause surges in stress hormones which can cause addictive behavior and unknown long-term developmental effects on the brain. 

Recommendations:  LIMIT PLAY TIME! Fortnite is not recommended for kids under age 13 but every child is different so know your child and their behavior around the game in order to set limits.
SOCIAL MEDIA READY by Adrienne Bononi, St. Matthew's Director of Technology and mother of a preschool boy

Overview: Reminder the legal age for a social media account is 13. Every child is different and some might be ready at that age, while others might not be able to handle the responsibility until later. 

Recommendation: To gauge if kids are ready for social media, ask them what they will do when they see a photo of friends at a party they were not invited to...their response should indicate their readiness. 
BEDTIME RULES by Liz Jones, mother 7th and 10th grade girls
Overview: Viewing screens before bed can disrupt circadian rhythms and quality of sleep.

Recommendation: No screen time before bed and no screens in bedrooms.
FOCUS ON THE BASICS by Joey Perez, father of a 6th grade girl and 2nd grade boy  

Overview: The biggest takeaway for me was to first focus on the basics. Families will see noticeable improvements in behavior and relationships by simply setting rules of engagement around device usage. Two tips you can put into immediate action are:
Recommendations:  Set up a Central Charging Station
There should be a central location in your home where all family members store and charge their devices. By keeping devices out of bedrooms, off the dinner table and out of areas where they can disrupt human attention and focus, you will see an increase in family members interacting with each other and being more present.
ABC (Ask, Bring, Check)
By establishing this simple rule parents can set ground rules around how devices can be used. By always having to ask kids know that it is a privilege to use a device and by having them bring it to you to show you what they hope to do. From there, you always want to check in to make sure it's appropriate. Otherwise, they are exploring the wide open Internet on their own.
CELL PHONE AT WHAT AGE? by Adrienne Bononi

Overview: What age should we get our child a cell phone?

Recommendation: When a life event calls for it. But doesn’t mean latest and greatest!
STAND UP to Tech! by Roz Neiman

Overview: Ergonomically speaking, that is. Hunching over a screen for long periods is causing increased cases of neck pain and posture problems in developing bodies. "Text Neck" is a thing (that you don’t want!).

Recommendation:  MOVE more than you sit and try holding cell phones at eye level when in use.

Overview: Don't share your password with ANYONE except parents and teacher. Ultimately, your account is your responsibility and you can't control what others might do.
STAY IN CONTROL (of your Content!) by Liz Jones

Overview: Kids must know that once they share data online, they lose control of it. It is out in the public realm of the Internet where anyone can use it as they choose. Your thoughts, feelings and photos become public and part of your “Digital TATOO” (ie does not go away). 

Recommendation:  Most importantly, teach kids not to give up control of their bodies by posting revealing images online.
HEALTHY SELF ESTEEM by Adrienne Bononi

Overview: There are a lot of healthy ways to feel good about yourself including being kind to others, overcoming a large challenge, diet, exercise, etc. Sports is another healthy way to generate self-esteem. When a child engages in a sport, they don't do it for the audience cheering, they play for themselves.

Recommendation: Reinforce healthy ways to generate self-esteem and be on the lookout for unhealthy connections to social media. 
What the EMF (Electro Gagnetic Frequencies)? by Roz Neiman

Overview:  Even when cell phones are OFF, they are emitting high doses of low frequency EMFs, which disrupt REM sleep and can interfere with the production of MELATONIN. When phones are ON, manufacturers, like Apple, recommend never holding a cell phone next to your head because its radiation penetrates up to 2 inches into the brain. Many long-term effects are not yet known.

Recommendation:  Do not sleep with your phone by your bed (even if it is turned off).
Multiplayer Gaming by Liz Jones

Overview:  When engaging in multiplayer gaming, do not answer stranger’s questions about favorite color, pet names, etc – identity thieves trying to put together your password. Same goes for answering quizzes on IG stories and sharing with your “Friends.” Teach your kids to be smart about what info they give out!
Questions? Ideas?

Upper School: Joe Perez ( joeyperez@mac.com ) & Liz Jones( liz.jones@gmail.com )
Lower School: Roz Nieman ( roz.nieman@me.com ) & Zac Thornborough ( zak@bestfriend.tv )
Faculty Ambassador: Adrienne Bononi ( abononi@stmatthewsschool.com )
St. Matthew's Parish School | www.stmatthewsschool.com