Thursday, February 28, 2019

Viral Internet Challenges

It happens all the time. Some new viral internet challenge pops up, and everyone hears about it and passes it on via social media and just plain rumor. Sometimes these challenges are fun and goofy. Sometimes people do them to support a cause.(Remember the ice bucket challenge?) But sometimes they are scary and encourage people to do dangerous things. (There was the Tide Pod challenge in 2017.)

There are lots of evil and frightening things out there on the internet, and we all need to be vigilant with our own intake of information and especially with what our children and teens are exposed to. The latest “Momo Challenge” is an example. There is true and false information out there about this, and we should always do our due diligence to be sure that the information we have is accurate. Check out Snopes and reputable news sources for information.

What is the best way to respond when something new comes down the pike? Well, honestly, don’t wait until something scary comes along. Families need to preemptively address this type of thing with children and teens. Set limits for children and screen time. Have children use the internet in a common area of the home where you can monitor what they are doing. Use a filtering device or software on any devices that your children use. Talk openly with your children of any age about what they are doing online. Tell your children that if they see anything scary or worrisome that the first thing they should do is to come to you.

We will soon be giving you information about a product available from Securly (our filtering and monitoring solution for our Chromebooks) that can be used to filter and monitor internet traffic on your home WIFI. There are also other parental control products out there, some of which include monitoring of cellular internet traffic.

God’s Word reminds us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Friday, September 21, 2018

Blue Light Special - Sleep and Screens

Lately I have been reading about the effect that looking at screens near bedtime has on our sleep. Several studies have concluded that the blue light from our phones, tablets, TV's and computers can influence our brains and degrade the quality and length of our sleep. In addition, any interaction with technology right before trying to fall asleep can impact the ability to do so.

An article in Science News for Students last November cited a study published in Chronobiology International, The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research which found that "evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities."


Another study, published in 2014 concluded that "Use of electronic devices is frequent in adolescence, during the day as well as at bedtime. The results demonstrate a negative relation between use of technology and sleep, suggesting that recommendations on healthy media use could include restrictions on electronic devices."


According to a survey done by the National Sleep Foundation in 2014, "Parents report that nearly three out of four (72 percent) children ages 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in the bedroom while they are sleeping." This report quotes Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School as saying, "To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime."

More information and links to additional studies can be found in this easy-to-read article about how technology affects sleep. You can also read about how how streaming videos affect sleep in an article entitled "Streaming Content and Sleep – 2018 Study." 

Hoping you get a good night's sleep, and that our students do as well!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Real Books

I love technology. Of course I do! I manage the school’s website, keep our social media platforms updated, and spend a lot of time sitting at a keyboard and looking at a screen. I take digital pictures and process them on my computer. I read articles online and pass on helpful hints to the teachers via email to make learning more interesting and engaging.

However, I also love books. Real books. Paper and ink books. Books that I borrow from the library, buy at a yard sale, or receive as a thoughtful gift. I hope that as our students move into the future, and technology takes up more and more of their time, that they also develop a love of books and of reading. The kind of thinking needed to read a book, to digest and revel in the words, to enter into the lives of the characters, is unparalleled. No Facebook post or Instagram caption can even compare. Scrolling through endless pictures on social media or mindlessly watching a parade of YouTube videos does not engage the mind the way that sitting down and reading does.

Reading outside makes for a perfect day!


So my hope is that although technology is integral to our lives today (and this is a technology blog, after all), our students will also learn to adore books. So, turn off the screens, go to the library, plan to buy some books at the book fair, or see what you have on the shelf in your house already! Encourage a love of books and reading in your home. Screens can take a back seat to paper and ink for a while.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Responsible Computer Disposal

It happens. Computers come to the end of their useful lives. This week we said goodbye to about 30 desktop computers that served us well, some for more than a decade! But it was time to put them to rest. We feel it is important to dispose properly, so we wait until we have enough units to warrant having an electronics recycling company come and then send them off. Goodbye hard drives, RAM, motherboards, and cases. Thanks for your service!



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Family Tech Talk

I've recently become aware of a website that may give families a jumping-off point for discussing all things tech. Each week, the blog suggests a technology topic for families to explore. The topics can all be found at the website and include such things as Sleep and Screens, Smartphones, Social Media, Online Shopping, Addiction, Bullying, Sexting, Video Games, and Homework, just to name a few.

This is not a Christian site, but it does contain some thought- provoking questions and interesting talking points. Perhaps in the slower pace of summer, your family could tackle some of these subjects. Since technology is such an integral part of our lives, it seems it is worth some insightful conversations, and as believers in Jesus, we can add the biblical view to our discussions as well. Even technology (or perhaps especially technology) must be handled with God's gracious best for our lives clearly in view.

The site is called "Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age" (the name is the same as a movie created by the founder) and the blog/discussion part of the site is called Tech Talk Tuesdays, and includes conversation starters about social media, video game use, tech tips, latest research and more.

If you have thoughts about this, let me know! You can email me at the school.

https://www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Being "Resourceful"

Are you taking advantage of the resources CCS has to offer on our website? It might be time to take another look!

Our site, conestogachristian.net, is a one-stop-shop for many bits of information you need. Under the "Resources" tab you can find links to the following pages:
  • Newsletters: Here you can go back and look at past newsletters to find information you may have misplaced. You can even go back and look at newsletters from last year!
  • Current Families: This page contains links to LOTS of forms you might need to print and send in to school. The page includes health forms, transportation forms, course guides, pre-planned absence form, and a generic field trip permission form, just to name a few!
  • Prospective Families: This page has links to information that might be of interest to families considering becoming a part of CCS.
  • Links: Check here for links to helpful sites such as Common Sense Media, Plugged In, Stay Safe Online, The College Board, and some bibliography builders, among others.
In addition to the specific "Resources" pages, the website has the most up-to-date school calendar, links to upcoming events, a wealth of academic information, links to elementary classroom websites, and much more. 

If you haven't visited recently, stop by!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Jr. Cougar Chromebooks!

Excited for their new Chromebooks!

Elementary classrooms are filled with fun! Students do many hands-on activities and learn a lot from their teachers and from each other. To support and enhance the learning that is already happening, we have deployed three Chromebooks to each elementary classroom in grades one through five. These small laptops were made possible through designated donations at last fall's annual auction. The Chromebooks can be used in addition to already available technology in the form of iPads and the six-station Chrome desktop "lab" located in the lower level of the elementary building.

Students in grades three through five receive computer instruction once a week in a larger lab located in the high school building and are able to take what they have learned there and apply it when using the Chromebooks in their classrooms. We know that screen time can never take the place of person-to-person interactions between students and teachers, but we are pleased that the technology is available to supplement and reinforce the curriculum that teachers work so hard to implement.