Some Headteachers have been asking me how we do Digital Detox (events for parents) and Digital Drop Off (system for kids to drop phones) because they want to do the same for their kids. Hurrah! I do think an initiative like this has to be whole-school. So teachers, maybe print off the blog and give to your Heads!
I would appreciate people not giving me grief for writing this. If you aren’t interested in digital detox, don’t read it! This is for people who are interested.
First – Remember we are just making this up as we go along. I am no expert. So if you come up with clever ideas along the way, do let me know!
- We write a lot of emails/letters to parents, send articles & videos of me talking about the evils of unsupervised access to the internet.
- The reason smartphones are so bad is that they give UNsupervised access to the internet.
- We say to parents – ONLY ONE DEVICE – a laptop or tablet should be allowed. Push for complete removal of smartphone with year 7s. With year 11s, try to get them to delete evil apps, or drop phones with the school from Mon to Fri or even just one night in the first instance. You then keep them in a safe. You need a foolproof system that will prevent you losing phones!
- The main evil apps are Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp.
- Games also a problem – biggest one is Fortnite. I call it poison. They can drop their game console leads at school too.
- If they won’t give up the smartphone, encourage them to turn screens to black and white, never have the phone in main rooms of the house – keep them in corridors – it inconveniences them and discourages use.
- PARENTS MUST BAN PHONES FROM BEDROOMS, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT.
- Sell alarm clocks at school. Phones shouldn’t be used to wake up kids!
- Tell the parents stories of how kids are up till 2am, meet undesirables, lie to their parents.
- We put on an evening on called Digital Detox for parents to learn how to put software on the child’s one device to only give access to homework sites.
- Clearly do not allow phones in school. But you must also reduce the school demands of use of the internet at home. We don’t use Google for instance for essay submission. We keep HW tech to a minimum.
- Just remember the main rule in leadership – Don’t ask people to do the impossible. Don’t set things up so that your parents/kids will fail at what you want them to do. Support them by cutting down the tech you demand of them.
- Explain to parents the concept that their kid isn’t exceptional. They aren’t going to be able to ignore the groomers, the sexy boy or girl who leads them astray, met on Instagram. When given the choice between homework and Fortnight, 95% of kids will choose the latter.
- Explain to them that eventually the parent ‘loses the child’. The child stops listening because they are lost to the underworld of social media. Nothing can then be done.
- Tell them about Breck Bednar’s mother who went to the police and begged for help. There was nothing she could do. Eventually her boy lied to her, went to this other boy’s flat, was tied to a chair and had his throat slit.
- Tell them about Kayleigh and Molly and so many others: dead children whose mothers have all made videos or agreed to films being made begging other parents to learn from their ordeals. But no one is listening. Play them a few minutes of these videos.
- Explain to the single mothers that 13 or 14 year old boys if given access to porn (smartphones) will watch porn. One of my male teachers pointed out to me that of course they don’t understand because they have never been a 14 year old boy!
- You need to persuade them to spend time with their children instead of just leaving them to their phones. Of course, easier said than done! Jobs, other children, absent fathers – all get in the way.
- Remind them that the big tech CEOs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – and many others – protect their only children from smartphones – not giving them phones until they are 16 or even older – but become billionaires our of our ignorance.
- Social media sites are meant to have a minimum age of 13 but no parent abides by this or even knows this. Frankly, that minimum age should be 16. One day, I believe it will be.
- Remember that your parents are nowhere near as tech savvy as your pupils.
- You must keep your system of phone confiscation totally separate from your digital drop off systems. Have different staff in charge. Put the place where phones are kept in different physical spaces.
- Digital Drop-Off MUST be voluntary and all phones must be returned the moment they ask for them. Ie They signed up on Monday to drop it off until Friday but they buckle on Wednesday and ask for it back. Give pep talks yes, but do as they wish.
- Get a good safe and make sure you never lose a phone. We use padded envelopes to store each phone separately.
- Oh, you need to sell brick phones at school – make them cheap. Asda has them at £7 apparently but they wouldn’t deliver to us. So we get them at £14 but we sell them for £10. And talk about brick phones all the time. I do assemblies on this – I have done a few for EVERYONE at school!
- People may hate you for doing this – especially on Twitter. Ignore them. You know you are doing what is right for your children. And when it gets hard, JUST KEEP GOING.
- GOOD LUCK!!
I am rooting for you. 100%.