Reflections from our October-18 Parent Tech Forum

We had a great turnout for our Upper School Parent Tech Forum October 18th! Input from parents indicated a few common themes:

  • Parents recognize the positive value in technology: for themselves, their children, and their families. Examples include digital artistry, interpersonal connection, communication, convenience, research, productivity, learning, and writing composition.
  • Every child is different, and so is her/his relationship with technology. Even siblings within a family can vary widely in terms of how they use tech and the consequent social/emotional implications thereof. There is no one-size-fits-all structure for setting tech rules and culture at home.
  • Guidelines that should apply to all children/families include
    • active parenting (talking to your child/ren about tech on an ongoing basis, not just as a response or reaction to a problem);
    • increased privileges and independence with time and demonstrated responsibility; and
    • supporting balance of tech use with time offline/off screens.  
  • Parents feel overwhelmed by the many hazards kids face in their use of technology and, more specifically, the Internet. This includes:
    • not being present in the moment during social occasions–instead being glued to a screen;
    • the costs of tech use/overuse/addiction (eg, reading fewer books);
    • intense/violent nature of some web content, like porn;
    • YouTube videos can be great for helping kids learn new things and/or gain new perspectives, but the comments section often contains disrespectful or vulgar language. (If you’re a Chrome user and you’re interested in blocking all comments on YouTube, try this extension; and
    • choosing the best at-home monitoring/filtering tools feels overwhelming–choosing the right tool, setting it up, and managing it.


More than any other topic we covered, at-home monitoring/filtering seemed to be the most charged subject. As such, we’ll focus singularly on that topic during the March-30th Upper School Tech Forum. That will include a more detailed walkthrough of what the interfaces/setup/data-reporting for each of these tools look like, and more clearly defined processes for choosing which one works best for you.

In the meantime, you can refer to Slides 7&8 from our slide deck and contact us if you have questions. As a baseline, we recommend Circle with Disney as the best tool, with a special nod to Qustodio if you’re seeking more robust/granular controls, particularly with mobile devices that use data networks in addition to at-home wifi networks.

Here’s a more detailed chart outlining the features of the various tools we recommend:

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-2-53-11-pm

The above covers three systems that we were able to test, but there are many others available on the market. Circle was by far the easiest system to set up out of the ones we tested. It automatically identified devices on the network, which made the initial set up a breeze. Luma also has the capability to identify devices automatically, but it also replaces your existing WiFi system, so there is a bit more setup involved. All three of these systems used iOS(Apple) or Android apps for setup and management.

If you would like an additional level of filtering, we would recommend installing an app-based filtering/monitoring solution like Qustodio. While we have heard great things about Qustodio from some of our parents, we have not yet had a chance to fully review this product, but we hope to have a more comprehensive blog post coming out soon that covers Qustodio and other app-based filtering/monitoring solutions.

For the full set of resources from Tuesday’s forum, click on the “PARENTS” tab above.

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