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Have you ever talked to your child about what

they’re into online?

This quick guide provides some excellent pointers on getting started.  

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 Parent Resources

Are you concerned about about raising your child in a world that is full of technology?  The following links can provide guidance to the concerned parent/caregiver when helping your child appropriately integrate  technology into their lives.

General Sites With Lots of Resources

OnGuardOnline.gov  is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.

Common Sense Media  is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.  They empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.  They have some excellent FAQ’s.

How to Apply Content Restrictions to Various Devices

iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

OSX El Capitan

OSX Yosemite

Google Play

Google Safe Search on all devices

Windows 10 

Windows 8.1

Windows 7

Or, use your preferred search provider and search “parental controls” plus whatever system you need to address.

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Acceptable Use Policy

Information and Communication Technology: Acceptable Use Policy

UHA’s Approach to A World Where Technology is Everywhere

Over the past six months, staff and students at University Heights Academy have collaborated in the redevelopment of our approach to the acceptable use of technological devices/resources.  This was necessary given that although UHA students behave (mainly) in accordance with a code of conduct reflecting both the principles in the student handbook and strong parental guidance, it was increasingly obvious that students do not always utilize the skills/resources available to them in their digital interactions.  This statement is evidenced by the fact that behavioral issues involving technological devices/resources were on the rise (and have been for a while), whereas other behavioral issues remained relatively stable. This behavioral discrepancy begged the question “Why are students behaving differently online?”.

The short answer to this question is that new forms of communication are expressing old problems in new ways, while also creating a whole new set of potential problems.  Fortunately, we have the skills necessary to effectively guide our students through these changing circumstances.  Unfortunately, we were failing to deploy our skills proactively in response to the introduction and eventual ubiquity of technological devices. Given that both problems had the potential solution of using our tools/skills effectively, we felt that the best solution was to explain the problem as an emergent social phenomena and take concrete steps to actively apply our skills/resources in the digital realm.  In addition, we continue to develop our skills through professional development sessions.  The active application of our skills/resources in the digital realm will foster the ability of students to do the same. We call this platform: Inspect What you Expect

Inspect What you Expect

In pursuit of the above objective, students and faculty at UHA have crowd sourced an “online social contract” to describe what kind of thought processes and behaviors should govern our online behavior.  The behavioral characteristics of kindness, honesty, respect, and integrity emerged as the those that let us “all get along” online, which should come as no surprise as these are what let us get along everywhere else.  In fact, these are more or less codified in UHA’s Core Values (LS Handbook p8, US Handbook p5).  Since our crowd sourced online expectations met our explicit offline expectations (Hooray!), it reaffirmed that students have the same expectations for online activity as they do for any other, and that there is nothing special about online activity or the use of technological devices/resources that lessens our expectations of them.  That is one thing that this approach does: it clarifies to students and parents that there are no such thing as digital expectations, just expectations in general that get applied/nuanced across all circumstances.

Furthermore, when there is any sort of dispute or behavioral transgression/allegation (i.e. a violation of expectations), it is both desired and necessary to gather as much information about the situation as possible before making decisions.  When applied to the realm of technology this search for information can take on unique forms, and often necessitates the inspection of a personal digital device (or personal account on a public digital device).  Insofar as behavior on campus, behavior stemming from on campus considerations, behavior designed to impact UHA relationships, or behavior at UHA events are concerned, use of these devices or accounts constitute consent to examine said devices in the interest of truth.  This is the second thing that this approach does: it clarifies to students and parents why UHA requires and therefore retains the right to inspect digital devices and accounts that are involved in, or the primary source of, a behavioral dispute/violation of expectations.

What does this mean?

While we do not advocate that explicitly aligning our expectations for students in the digital realm with our expectations in all other realms will  magically solve the higher rate of behavioral incidents involving technological devices/resources, it assures that we systematically apply our individual abilities and institutional resources to an emergent set of issues.  Beyond this, it makes sure we are training your children to reflexively examine their digital behaviors with an understanding of integrity, and therefore helping them display kindness, courage, and scholarship in all parts of their life. In simpler terms, it means that the Student Handbook everyone signs at the beginning of the year provides expectations that are to be upheld across all aspects of UHA life.  We were not communicating this clearly, now we are.

Summary

UHA has begun a new era in regards to the use and governance of technological devices/resources, largely in response to the changing social context of digital ubiquity. This era involves the recapture of the digital into the “real world” as technology is no longer a curiosity relegated to an idiosyncratic niche, but rather an increasingly prevalent and useful component of our daily lives.  To crystallize this we are eradicating the notion that digital expectations are any different than our normal expectations, and clarifying that we will all means available to inspect for compliance.

Jonah M. Kendall
UHA Technology Director
jkendall@uha-ky.org
10/12/2015