Digital Hacks to Make Tech Work Better for Your Family

By

Caroline KnorrCommon Sense Media

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As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?”…

Using technology to manage your kids’ technology sounds crazy to most parents. Do we really need an app to get kids to stop using their phones? But having a few clever tech tricks up your sleeve can help you solve a range of issues — many of which you didn’t know you had — from paying less for great kids’ TV to minimizing video game violence.

This isn’t only about restricting, banning, or monitoring. Part of managing your kids’ media means arming yourself with information so you can make media and tech work for you — instead of the other way around. It’s also important to realize when tech isn’t the solution at all.

Here are our favorite hacks to improve what your kids watch, see, play, and do.

Make YouTube more kid-friendly. YouTube’s Restricted Mode hides most age-inappropriate videos and also enables safe search in Google. Just go to YouTube. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. See the little box that says “Restricted Mode: Off”? Click it on.

Tame games. The popular game network Steam offers lots of kid-friendly games such as the LEGO Movie VideogamePortal, and Sid Meier’s Civilization V. But it also sells plenty of games that aren’t appropriate for kids. Use the site’s parental controls, called Steam Family View, to limit what kids can download.

Get high-quality, low-cost kids’ shows without cable. Online streaming video services aren’t only for grown-ups. Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix offer high-quality, original kids’ shows. Nutri Ventures (Hulu), Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (Amazon), and Turbo FAST (Netflix) are only a few examples. Some advantages of streaming versus TV: There are fewer commercials, and programs don’t run continuously. Check out great kids’ shows on HuluNetflix Instant, and Amazon Prime.

Help kids focus on one app at a time.

  • In iOS: Let your kids play away on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch without worrying they’ll get distracted by another app — or, worse, get into your email or private files. Apple’s Guided Access feature (found in Settings/General/Accessibility) temporarily restricts your device to a single app.
  • In AndroidThe restricted user profile (for tablets only) lets you create individual environments for each family member, providing access only to the apps (and various features within those apps) you set.

Turn off gore in video games. Sometimes even serious gamers like a little less blood, gore, and violence. A handful of popular titles, including Call of Duty: Black Ops 2Left for Dead 2Assassin’s CreedStarcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and Team Fortress 2, allows players to tone down or turn off the gory stuff. Check your kids’ games to see if this feature is offered.

Be present (and still get work done). Need to cut out of work early for a soccer game or music recital? Got a sick kid on your biggest deadline day? Designate VIPs in your email or phone contacts lists, and you won’t be disturbed until they — and only they — contact you. In iOS you can create a VIP setting that notifies you of important emails.

Get serious about passwords. Kids are accumulating more and more passwords for school, services, social sites, and even their devices — and it’s easy to forget, misplace, or share them by accident. But with increasing large-scale data attacks targeting log-in information, it’s vital to protect the confidentiality and security of your information. Password managers not only generate passwords and keep them secure, they can help reinforce the importance of safeguarding your private information. A few to try: LastPass1Password, and KeePass.

Help your kid manage screen time. Kids don’t necessarily have a built-in off switch. But learning when enough is enough is an essential digital-age skill. Software timers such as Timers4Me and Time Timer count down the minutes you’ve set, allowing kids to take responsibility for managing their own screen time. They work for other tasks, too, such as practicing piano or getting ready to leave the house in the morning.

Get kids reading — for free. Kids are reading less than ever. Reverse that disheartening trend with free digital books, available for your computer or mobile device. In addition to local libraries, which use services such as OverDrive to let you check out free ebooks, a few websites offer free ebooks, including Project Gutenberg, the Open LibraryBarnes & Noble(for use with the free Nook app), and Amazon (for use with the free Kindle app). Start With a Book offers themed lists that include book suggestions and activities.

Shore up your privacy. Did you know that you’re collecting cookies? These data trackers are deposited on your computer by websites and follow you around online, enabling sites to recognize you — but potentially invading your privacy. Sites don’t always make it clear when and how they use cookies, and the data they collect aids marketers more than it does you. Plus, they may be tracking more than you really want anyone to know. Deleting your browser history won’t get rid of them. Here’s how to fine-tune the privacy settings on the most popular browsers: ChromeSafari, and Internet Explorer.

Find your phone — and, while you’re at it, your kid. The free Find my Phone app for iOS or Android is a no-brainer to locate a lost device. But it also can help you check up on your kid, so long as he or she is attached to the phone. Installing the app and enabling the phone’s location services displays the phone (and, presumably, its handler) on a map.

Master your home network. The Internet security company OpenDNS offers a download called Family Shield that lets you set up parental controls on your home network. The service is free, but you have to make a change to your wireless router (it’s daunting but worth it, and the directions talk you through it.)  This filtering service is nearly impossible for kids to defeat.

DIY parental controls. Add content filters to your browser to restrict what kids can search for and more.

EGUSD Celebrates Both Native American Heritage Month and Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month

The Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education took action on two resolutions designating the month of November as both

Native American Heritage Month and Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month.

Board Resolutions
Native American Heritage Month
Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month

Resources
Click here to explore resources on the nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov website.

Resources
Click here to explore resources on the sikhcoalition.org website.

A & B Track APEX Fund Raiser

Our annual APEX Fund Raser has begun!  A & B tracks are helping our school get pledges from Oct 15 – Oct 24.

Our Fun Run will be Thursday, October 24th at 8:30am on our school track.

You can help by going to MYAPEXEVENT.COM and submitting a pledge.

Get your access code from a student or teacher!

Cyber and Digital Citizenship

Open flier HERE.

You’re Invited to EXPLORE: Map Your Future – Sept. 26 | 5 – 7PM

What will your student be when he or she grows up? Has your child had the opportunity to see a wide variety of the future career options that are available to him or her? Did you know that the Elk Grove Unified School District offers many career-themed academies and pathways? Here’s your chance to find answers to these questions!

Students in 4th through 9th grades are invited to attend EXPLORE: Map Your Future, a family-friendly BBQ event to explore career academy and pathway programs (food is available while supplies last). This school year, Map Your Future will take place on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at the Elk Grove Regional Park’s Pavilion Center, 9950 Elk Grove-Florin Road, Elk Grove, CA 95624, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Guests may arrive at any time during the two-hour window.

Also, attendees may reserve a spot on a District school bus if transportation is needed (at least one family member must ride with the student on the bus). The school bus will arrive at the event by 5:00 p.m. and will depart at the conclusion of the event at approximately 7:00 p.m. If interested, please sign up for the bus service by visiting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdKm2L9dA0XbJoqj3YReJ-xMyQPeITxemDRPGoJYmX_w7mQIQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

If you plan to drive, we encourage you to access parking at the Elk Grove Regional Park through Gate 10.

Want to read more about academy and pathway programs? Please visit: www.EGUSDexplore.com

Download the Event Flyer – English

Download the Event Flyer – Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese

Partner With Us – Parent LCAP Survey

The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) believes that family and community engagement is a fundamental component to student success and achievement and appreciates your trust and commitment. We ask that you partner with us and share your hopes and dreams for preparing your student to be college, career and life-ready upon graduation.

As we work together to create our Local Control & Accountability Plans (LCAP), we encourage each and every family and community member within the Elk Grove Unified School District to provide us with their valuable input on how best to prioritize funding for programs and services by filling out the Parent LCAP Survey:

2019-2020 Parent Survey – LCAP Needs

 

LCAP Survey – English
Encuesta LCAP – Español
Ntawv Sojntsuam LCAP – Hmong
Khảo Sát LCAP – Vietnamese

School Site Council

Hello Spartan families,

 

Our Sunrise Elementary School Site Council is our governing board which helps to develop and align our budget and goals in what is called the Local Control Accountability Plan or LCAP. The Council is comprised of five parents, three certificated teachers, a classified employee and the principal. Parent members serve a two year term on the Council. Parents continuing on with us this year to serve the second year of their term are Michael Pedley and Anissa Sonnenburg.

 

Three parent members have termed out, but are willing to continue on for a second two year commitment. Blair Douglas, Kim Martin and Christine Tang are open to serving again. To be inclusive to any parent that would like to join the Council we must solicit nominations of other interested parents. Candidates cannot be employees of the EGUSD. If no one expresses an interest then these incumbents will continue on for another two year term. If a parent is interested, please let me know by Friday, September 6. Please express your interest by emailing me at mhockiii@egusd.net.

 

So, what is the commitment? Our Council bylaws indicate we will host quarterly Council meetings, so at minimum we will host four meetings annually. Certain times of the year may require more input and so we may schedule more meetings as needed. Meetings run between one and two hours. Parent input is important to running our school effectively and input insures that we are responsive to the needs of our community. I make every effort to be transparent with school-wide academic data, program effectiveness, budget allocations, as well overall school culture and climate indicators.

 

Our school is indebted to our parents who have stepped up to serve our students, staff and community. If you would like to join us, please let me know. If you have any questions or need clarification, my office door is open to you, or you can email or call.

 

Thank you,

 

Marty Hock

Principal, Sunrise Elementary

(p)916.985.4350 ext. 17600

(f)916.985.8927

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It’s easy to say,

‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then

there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” -Fred Rogers

Another Music Opportunity

Hello Spartan families,

We have another wonderful music opportunity for our students coming our way. The Mandarins Music Academy will be hosting band and choir classes at Sunrise Elementary. Band will be open to 4th-6th grade students (possibly 3rd grade students who are experienced), and choir is open to all K-6 students. Director Jim Tabuchi of The Mandarins will be available for parents of students on ALL tracks the evening of August 22 from 5:30-7:00 outside the multipurpose room. The Mandarins staff can answer questions, take registrations, and they plan to host an instrument “petting zoo” where kids can try different instruments. Families can also register at www.mandarins.org.

So we now have two opportunities to connect our growing musicians- The Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory (contact Clara Litman or Oxalis Nguyen at www.sacramentoconservatory.com) for piano/keyboards and violin instruction, and The Sacramento Mandarins Music Academy for woodwind instruments/band and choir lessons. We encourage all interested families to register soon as our music and choir programs are dependent upon enrollment.

Thank you and happy music making!

Music at Sunrise

 

Hello Sunrise Families,

 

A part of our vision is to provide opportunities to develop the whole child. Our extended day music opportunities are taking a new turn this year and we have some new community partners. This year the Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory will be offering violin, piano, drums, and recorder lessons. If your child is interested in learning to play an instrument or is ready to take the next step in their development, please plan to attend our information orientation and registration family event on Thursday, August 1 from 6:00-7:00 in our multipurpose room. Please also see the flyer to RSVP or pre-register. Forms can be provided to our office in advance or brought with you the night of the event.

Thank you, as always, for your partnership.

Click HERE to download Music Flyer/Sign up

Attendance / Tardies

Hello Spartan families,

 

Every day, on time attendance is critical to student success and it sets the tone for a great school day. Our staff wants to take the time to clarify what on time means so that we can mitigate any misunderstandings and conflicts with attendance.

  • On time means students are with their teacher and in their seats at 8:15 ready for the morning announcements.
  • Our entry gates will close and lock at 8:15 when our final bells ring, but students will be reminded to go to the office to receive a late slip.
  • We follow this process so that we have the ability to adjust teacher attendance recording with the most accurate information. For example a slightly late student may be marked absent by the teacher at 8:15. If the student doesn’t check in through the office to receive a late slip, the absence stays in the attendance system and the District will give the parent an automated call indicating the student was marked absent. Parents are then concerned and confused knowing their child was dropped off for school. If the child picks up the late slip, our office can then change the absence to a late and the parent will not receive the phone call.
  • To make things easy, please drop your child off between 8:00 and 8:10. This will ensure that children have enough time to line up on the blacktop, ready for their teacher and ready for school.

 

Thank you for helping us instill timeliness, start learning on time and clean up confusion with our attendance system!

 

Marty Hock

Principal, Sunrise Elementary

(p)916.985.4350 ext. 17600

(f)916.985.8927

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It’s easy to say,

‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then

there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” -Fred Rogers

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