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West Catholic strongly encourages the integration and use of technology in all courses by both teachers and students. We strive to meet and exceed all national and state standards.  ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) (link is external) standards are met within in technology classes and throughout the building to prepare all students to use technology seamlessly in their education so that they are prepared for the future.

In addition to teaching digital citizenship throughout our curriculum, West Catholic enforces a strict code of conduct in dealing with all usage of technology, electronic transmissions, and all digital content. To review West Catholic’s technology policies and procedures, open the Policies / Documentation section below.

Most of us today only find out about the apps on our teenagers’ phones when they make a reference to a particular app in conversation, or we see a news report about someone using an app to bully, catfish or prey on a young child or teen.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Parents today can check out apps using freely available websites that do all the legwork of trying out and evaluating apps.   

Protect Young Eyes is one such site that does a great job helping parents make educated choices. Protect Young Eyes (PYE) offers helpful descriptions of what each app reviewed is, what parents need to know about the app and offers a bottom-line critique on the appropriateness of the site. The site is very good at educating parents and offering ways to protect children and teens.

Check out Protect Young Eyes app reviews here (link is external)

Another site that can be helpful in learning about apps is Common Sense Media, although the reviews of apps can be outdated and may not consider updates to the apps that may have happened recently. This website breaks down each app based on what parents need to know, whether the app is any good and what you could talk to your kids about. The site isn’t as good as PYE, but it is worth a look to get more information.

Check out Common Sense Media here (link is external)

Both of these sites are free to use and can help parents get a handle on the apps their child might be using and to allow them to open up a dialogue about what might be appropriate for them to use and how to use the apps in a safe manner.

Jeff Bailey
Instructional Technology Specialist

Almost every day there is a news report on television or on the radio about something disturbing involving online activities and teenagers.

It is important to realize that while these stories are alarming, they can be a good reminder of what our teens are facing in this world today. They also serve as a great conversation starter.

It is easy to lecture your teen about these situations or to simply ban the technologies involved, but this is really the perfect time to converse with your child about technology and social media.  

Whether the story is about bullying on social media, online predators or the latest “viral challenge,” this is a great time to open the lines of communication about these topics and help your teen navigate the world with your guidance.

First, realize that if you are thinking about these news stories, more than likely your child is, too. Take the opportunity to ask your son or daughter if they’ve ever seen any behaviors online that make them uncomfortable, find out how they decide to friend someone online or if they’ve heard anything about the latest viral challenge.

The conversational tone of these questions will allow your teen to open up and be honest about what they’ve seen because they are non-threatening.

The key in all this is to have the conversation be free of judgment. As part of that conversation, you can react to what your child tells you but the parental tendency to judge has to be set aside. The fact is that most children don’t want to bully or be bullied and often feel helpless about how to react to it. 

These conversations are your opportunity to help them work through this situation, to reconsider their own online behaviors and to also equip them with tools on how to deal with an online bully. The added benefit of these conversations is that your child will know they can come to you in a situation where they feel unsure about what is happening online. 

Along the same lines, this is a great time to talk about social media and who we should and who we shouldn’t friend.  

It is well known that social media sites can be great places for online predators to seek out their prey. All social media sites make “friend” suggestions, which often, as an adult, can be quite disarming when you realize you don’t know any of the people being suggested. Imagine how difficult it can be for a teenager to turn down suggested friends or connections?   

Now is a great time to talk about how we should never have online friends who we don’t know in the real world.

Viral challenges can be fun or they can be dangerous. The vast majority are probably fun, but it is good to be a sounding board for your child about these challenges. A few years ago, my son came to me wanting to do the mentos/diet coke experiment he had seen online and we were able to do it safely in our driveway. Another time, we did the ice bucket challenge and posted it online for fun. These activities and our openness to considering them allow our children to ask us whether they should put glue on their lips or eat a tablespoon of cinnamon without putting themselves at risk. 

We all worry about our teenagers online but the realization that technology isn’t going away means we have to open up paths of communicating about the “horror” stories we hear on the news so we can provide guidance about how to handle these situations should they encounter them. They also signal to our teens that we are here for them when they need a sounding board.

Jeff Bailey
Instructional Technology Specialist

At West Catholic we see technology as an integral part of teaching our students how to use technology in appropriate and effective manner as part of their studies.

As a parent myself I am concerned, like many parents, about the amount of time that my son might be online as well as what he might be accessing while online
Understanding these concerns, we work very hard to make sure that our students are provided access to great technology while also making sure that our students stay safe online.

Some of the ways that we do so include:

Our teachers are expected to have guidelines for students using iPads in their classrooms, and many use a program called Apple Classroom that helps guide students through a lesson, allows teachers to see student progress, and keep them on track. Teachers can also easily launch the same app on every student device at the same time, or launch a different app for each group of students. Classroom helps teachers focus on teaching so students can focus on learning.

Great teaching is what we strive for in using technology, however, not automated teaching.  There isn’t any reason to fear your student is spending their entire day on a screen. The classroom of today is not so different from the classroom you learned in.  Just like in the past, our great teachers use the best tools, technological or not, to seek great results from our students.

To further ensure our students make the best use of their iPad, each student iPad is limited to apps that have been approved and can be downloaded from Self Service, our curated set of apps.  There are no games or social media apps, and students do not have access to the App Store. These limitations make sure that the tablet is used as a learning tool, rather than being a tool for fun and socializing.

Furthermore, the internet on your student’s iPad is monitored and secured 24/7 by iBoss, so students searching the web at home are just as protected as if they were at school.  Private browsing is also blocked from students and they are not allowed to delete their internet history from the device.  

Additionally, if a student attempts to seek inappropriate site a red flag is raised that notifies school administrators for further discussion/discipline and possible counseling on the acceptable use of technology.

All of these protections help to ensure that your son or daughter is able to learn how to use technology in a manner that is appropriate while also enhancing their ability to create, learn, and be a digital citizen. 

As we all know, all technology can be used positively or negatively even with protections in place. In the coming months, I’ll be offering some tips on how parents can make sure that their son/daughter is able to use technology safely and positively, both inside and outside of school.

Jeff Bailey
Instructional Technology Specialist


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