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In this week’s Calling article I ask two questions:

1. Is your son ready for weeks 6 to 8?

2. Is your son using his computer correctly?

It has always been my view that week 6 to week 8 are the crucial ‘make it or break it’ weeks of every Term. If your son has set himself up well in the first few weeks with good work and study habits then he should be fine. If he has still not broken the rhythm of the holidays then he may be in for a rough ride. Assignments are beginning to pile up, deadlines are getting closer and in my experience when our young men start falling behind with their work, their behaviour in class also starts to deteriorate. If as parents you feel that your son has set himself up for a rough ride through the assignment period please make contact with his teachers and House Dean so that we can organise the support that he requires.

The expectation of the College surrounding the use of school computers is simple. It should only be used for the purpose of education and it must be charged every night. In recent years, the College has tried to assist those students who have forgotten to charge their computer by lending them another battery. Unfortunately, a small number of students have abused this system, and instead of taking on the responsibility of charging their computer each night, they have collected a new battery. Can I ask that you remind your son each night to ensure his computer is on charge ready for the next day.

The second issue regarding computers is playing online games and the bullying that some of our young men are facing due to their parents now enforcing more appropriate school time / screen time rules. Over the course of the holidays many of our young men were allowed to have extended screen time which was great for their online team. However, as school has returned, their screen time has been cut back to ensure other priorities are being met. This reduction in time is causing conflict between some of our young men and their so-called online friends. As we are all aware, being part of the team is vital for teenage men, and when you risk being ousted from the team due to other time commitments, conflict can occur.

Can I ask all our parents to discuss the nature of online games with their son and to check if the people in his online teams are actually people you as parents know. Below are a two sets of rules. The first covers smart phone safety and the second covers online safety. Please take the time to consider these rules and the technology habits of your son.

Smart Phone Rules

  1. We own the phone. We know the security password or unlock pattern. If you want to download an app, come talk to us.
  2. Always respond to texts/calls from us. If a friend calls, answer it. Be polite.
  3. The phone lives in the main room. It is turned off during the evenings. It qualifies as "screen time," and its use follows our screen time rules, which is limited use on the weekends.
  4. Don't record audio or video of people without their knowledge.
  5. We can read your texts and check your photos and videos.
  6. Know that sharing photos and videos, as well as anything written, can be saved and shared without your knowledge.
  7. If the phone is lost, damaged or destroyed, you will have to go without and save up to repair or replace it.
  8. Don't give out any personally identifiable information, such as full name, date of birth, address, or phone number without our permission. Let us know if someone is asking for it.
  9. Do not use the technology to deceive or lie to others. It's not a prankster's tool. Do not text or use apps to be a bully. Assume that all parents are checking.
  10. Silence the phone at obvious times -- the dinner table, school, movies, restaurants and especially while conversing with others.

Staying Safe Online

  1. Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
  2. Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
  3. Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
  4. Never give out your passwords
  5. Don’t befriend people you don’t know
  6. Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do
  7. Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are
  8. Think carefully about what you say before you post something online
  9. Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude
  10. If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately.

Thank you for your support.

Mr Darren Kearney - Dean of Students