LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Today's children are digital natives, which can be overwhelming when trying to make sure they practice online safety.
The Lubbock Independent School District has a team dedicated to helping parents and teachers understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.
We spoke with a couple of experts to learn tips on how to parent and teach today's tech savvy kids.
Today's classroom looks much different than the one Sherry Mitchell began teaching in 34 years ago.
"When I first started teaching, there was no internet. I started with the first Apple E computer in the classroom. The only technology I was able to get in my classroom, I had to apply for grants. So, applied for grants everywhere I could find one," Mitchell said.
Now students at Lubbock Independent School District are surrounded by Google Chromebooks and SMARTboards.
"With a lot of the assessment tools that we have, we can now go in and look at each student. What is their learning level? What are things they are lacking in? How can we differentiate instruction to meet the needs of everyone of our students and meet the needs of their learning styles?" Mitchell said.
Mitchell is the Coordinator of Digital Learning at LISD. Her team trains teachers on how to incorporate instructional technology in the classroom while making sure students use those digital components responsibly.
"We require every teacher to train students on internet safety, cyberbullying, and digital citizenship," Mitchell said. "We talk about a digital footprint, but we say it's more than a footprint, it's more like a tattoo because it's permanent. It's hard to remove and it always leaves a scar."
"What we do at school would be largely benefited if it was done at home as well," said Lauren Hickman, a digital learning specialist for the district.
Hickman is also the parent of a nine-year-old LISD student.
"It's just talking with them about what we see. When they pull up a source and they are looking at the information, parents can have a conversation with them. What does this website look like? Does this information seem factual? What kind of information are they giving us to show that it is valid? Are there misspellings on the page? Are there inappropriate images on the page or things that would discredit that information?" Hickman said.
While Hickman is well trained in online safety, she still worries.
"Concerns that I have when I think about my son, who is going to come in contact with? Is he going to be able to gauge what's real and someone who is kind or someone who might be harmful be harmful or someone who trying to gain information they don't need. Those things I worry about," Hickman said.
She said monitoring and limiting her son's time spent online, helps.
"During the school week, we are not going to use any technology in the evenings because I know he's been using it at school during the day. On the weekends, then we set a time limit. We say, "There is going to be a lot of other activities you need to be engaged in, but on Saturday you can set your timer for an hour and you can play a verified game. Something that I know what he is playing that is actually not connected to the internet, it is not connected to a chat room and he is not playing versus other players," Hickman said.
LISD has a digital learning web page you can find here that offers free resources to teachers, parents and students.
There are online resources about making smart media choices, cyberbullying, David's Law, good digital parenting and more.