By Barbara A. Samfield, MA-CCC/SLP
Are you and your tween or teen “back-to-school ready?”
Parents, students, and even teachers enjoy getting into the “back-to-school” spirit after summer vacation. Shopping for supplies and clothes may be fun, but for most, smartphones or tablet devices top the list of “must haves.”
But, that’s not all there is to getting “back-to-school ready.”
Back-to-school time is an ideal teaching opportunity for parents to review rules about using phones and other devices, and discuss consequences of some types of messages, especially since texting is students’ preferred way of communicating. It’s also a time for students to find out more ways to connect.
First, parents need to find out about what their children are actually doing on their devices, and then educate themselves about current popular apps that students are using.
Second, discuss the “basics”: no texting while driving and not sending explicit pictures or messages. Understanding that some posts, even when done as a “joke”, can have serious, and possibly life-threatening or lasting legal consequences.
Less obvious is how texting might be used to intimidate or bully someone. Bullying has been around for decades, but now exists digitally and is commonly called “cyberbullying.”
Digital communication can rapidly spiral out of control with the capacity to send and forward messages or pictures to hundreds at once, including strangers. Receiving inappropriate or hurtful texts or images, and resisting peer pressure to forward them, may be difficult for some students to handle. Being the target is even more challenging.
As the school year resumes, parents need to review guidelines for texting, discuss questionable content and their effects, and teach resistance to peer pressure for spreading or sending potentially harmful messages. Parents can empower their children with knowledge about message content and their consequences. Online resources for parents are available via internet searches for “texting guidelines.”
For families: http://www.safekids.com/rules-for-family-cell-phone-use/
Is your child mature enough to make these judgments?
Find out during some “face-time” with your child. Having this discussion can help you both get “back-to-school ready.” Best advice? Keep the lines of communication open, even if you have to send your student a text message to meet.
Barbara Samfield is the owner and clinical director of the Speech & Language Center at Stone Oak, a private practice of speech-language pathologists serving the greater San Antonio area since 1998. For more information, visit www.stoneoakspeech.com
or call 210.495.9944.