When the Princeton Day School Parents Association held a panel discussion in February about how children of all ages can best navigate social media and technology, little did we all realize that online "everything" was about to become the new normal around the world.
This topic is of utmost importance as we engage in Panthers Online learning and maintain social connections through technology. We hope that the insights of the faculty and Upper School students on the PA session panel will help support all Panther families as we navigate this new time together.
Faculty panelists included:
- Samantha Dawson, Director of Counseling and Learning Specialist
- Jamie Atkeson, MS Technology Coordinator
- Chris Rhodes, Acting Head of US 2020-2021
- Dr. Sandy Wang, Head of Lower School
- Carol Olson, Lower School Technology Coordinator
- Renée Price, Head of Middle School
- Cloey Tolatta, Middle School Learning Specialist
- Dr. Candy Shah, Director of Wellness Services
The panel also included three high school juniors, who highlighted the positives and negatives of their own technology use and social media.
Key takeaways from the session:
1. Parents should set clear, established rules for cell phone use. Whether it is a written contract or strong parental suggestions (such as leaving the phone in an established location out of reach or earshot while doing school work or when it is time to sleep), clear and consistently applied rules are essential in developing positive habits for technology and social media use.
2. Parents should step in at times to suggest separation from technology access and reinforce boundaries, even for their juniors and seniors. The juniors admitted that this parental oversight is beneficial to them as they try to balance keeping in touch with friends and entertaining themselves online while also productively completing work and participating in family life.
3. Understand and explain to your children the importance of applying the "golden rule" online. Instill the simple, universal standard of treating others with mutual respect, just as you should do in person. Modeling and family conversation around what this means is highly recommended, including discussing examples and role playing. Equally important, this standard applies to all ages, children and adults alike.
While we all wish that we could spend time together this spring, the adjustment to social distancing is perhaps most difficult for Middle and Upper School students, who generally crave spending time with friends in and out of school. Now, more than ever, it is important to develop and reinforce healthy online practices and find the proper balance when the only method this spring to interact and build relationships with those outside the family is via technology.