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Social Media Tips for Parents

Posted on Jan 24, 2015 6:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

social media direction sign

At a recent Coffee & Conversation we were pleased to welcome guest speaker, Jared Wastler, Assistant Principal at Liberty High School in Carroll County.  Mr. Wastler, 2014 Maryland Assistant Principal of the Year, has extensive knowledge and experience with kids and social media.  Here are some things he shared with us to help us better navigate the waters of social media with our children.

Social Media:  The Challenges

Most parents of school-aged children can remember a time before social media and even the internet.  Many of us dabble in this technology to some degree; however, our children have grown up on it and are entrenched in it.  This results in several challenges:

Challenge #1:  We do not speak the same language.  While “digital” is a first language for children, it is a second language for most parents.  Not only can the lingo and terminology be confusing to parents, kids have developed their own code system that keeps most of us in the dark.

Challenge #2:  Life online is fast and changes at the speed of light.  As members of the “2.8 second generation,” children of today have short attention spans and do not like to wait for information.  As a result, they have little difficulty keeping up with this rate of change.  It is a different story, however, for their parents.

Challenge #3:  Knowledge does not equal wisdom.  While our children may possess digital knowledge, they do not yet have the life experience to fully understand the consequences of their actions.  For example, they may live under the false assumption that if they delete something questionable they posted on the internet, it will disappear.  What they do not realize is that it still exists in cyberspace and can come back to haunt them later.

The Fears

  • Online Predators:  Who is really on the other end of the screen?  Who are our children talking to?

  • Cyberbullying: With the increase in technology usage and the “luxury” of anonymity, this has become a common occurrence, especially among teenagers.

The Positives

  • Access to Good Educational Resources:  While there are many things on the internet that are not appropriate for young audiences, there are also many sites and experiences available online that are positive and beneficial.

  • The Opportunity to Establish a Positive Online Presence: The internet is currently the first place colleges and employers go to in order to research prospective students and employees.  Therefore, it is beneficial to develop a positive online presence (e.g. creating an online portfolio through the posting of papers, projects, blog entries, etc.)

LCS Computer Class

Social Media Tips For Parents

  1. Be Open and Honest.  Conversation is key.  Help your children understand that you want them to be safe and aware.

  2. Stay Educated.  Things in cyberspace can change quickly and dramatically.  Make the effort to stay up to date in order to stay connected with your kids.

  3. Know the “Hidden Map.”  While today’s delivery channels may be different, the desire to hide things from adults is timeless.  The previous generation’s practice of passing notes behind the teacher’s back has evolved into hiding messages and folders on devices.  Kids know the tricks.  Learn how to access the data they might be trying to hide.

  4. Help your Child Develop a Positive Digital Footprint.   Similar to establishing a credit history, developing a positive digital footprint, or online presence, is a must.  When future potential employers type your child’s name into a search engine, it would be much better if their search resulted in more positive than negative results.  To achieve this, encourage your children to think carefully about what they are posting on social media sites and publishing on the web.  Help them to understand what is appropriate and what is not.  In addition, provide guidance in the development of an online portfolio.

Mr. Wastler concluded the presentation with the following thought:  We live in a connected world and can get anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse.   We need to help our children navigate it.

globe and mouse

For more information and further resources, please visit Mr. Wastler’s website at



Your Kids and Screen Time: How Much is Too Much?

Posted on May 6, 2014 10:37:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

Kids on Couch watching TV

Today’s generation of children is exposed to more media than any that came before them.  Through television, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming devices and more, children in this day and age have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.  And, although some time spent with these devices can offer educational benefits, too much screen time can have long-term adverse consequences.

The Risks of Too Much Screen Time
Extended time in front of a screen can lead to:

- Obesity.  Time spent in front of a screen is time that is not spent being physically active.  In addition, children tend to eat more in front of a screen, especially when they watch television. Unhealthy eating habits can be also be picked up through television ads for food that is not nutritious.

- Irregular sleep.  Extended time in front of a screen can overstimulate the brain and lead to sleep loss and subsequent fatigue.

- Behavioral problems.  Time in front of the screen takes away from the time spent interacting with family and friends.  This can lead to social, emotional, and attention problems.

- Impaired academic performance.  Most of the time spent in front of a screen is passive in nature.  Since children learn through active play, too much screen time deprives them of the exercise and mental stimulation they need to develop.   In addition, more time in front of a screen offers less time for doing homework and reading.

- Violence.  Because social and problem solving skills are best developed away from screens, spending too much time in front of them can hinder development in these areas.  This, coupled with exposure to violent screen content, can lead to increased aggression and threatening behavior.   

Kids Jump rope

How Much is Too Much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting a child’s screen time to no more than one to two hours a day.  Unfortunately, many children spend much more time than this in front of a screen each day.  If your child falls into this majority, efforts to reduce screen time may seem like a daunting challenge, especially if excessive screen time has become ingrained into your child’s routine.  However, the effort you make now will be of great benefit to his or her physical and mental health in the long run.  

How to Decrease Screen Time
Here are 5 ways help cut down your child’s screen time:

1.  Create a Family Media Use Plan.
This plan should take into consideration the quality, quantity and location of media use for family members.  In addition, look for ways to make screen time as engaging as possible.Family playing Wii

2.  Keep Televisions and Computers out of the Bedrooms.
Screen time can be better monitored when screens are located in common areas of the house.

3.  Encourage Active Play.
Suggest alternative activities, such as a bike ride, a trip to the library for a book, a board game, or any other activity that offers alternatives that encourage social interaction and foster creativity.

4. Be a Role Model
Practice what you preach by setting the example and limiting your own screen time.

5.  Unplug It.
If excessive screen time continues to be an issue,  turn off the devices for a while.  You may even want to designate a time (e.g. one day a week or month) to go “screen free” to encourage the practice of alternative activities.