two girls taking a selfie on top of a building

For some people, summer signifies a shift to a slower-paced more carefree time. Even with this shift, it is important to stay vigilant about your online habits to protect yourself and maintain a healthy media balance. 

Summer Safe Selfies
The selfie trend doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Practicing safe selfie etiquette when exploring new areas while on summer break/vacation is important. Stay more focused on your surroundings, and less focused on getting the “perfect” shot. Trespassing on private property, getting too close to a cliff edge or caught in an unexpected ocean wave could result in an unnecessary trip to the ER or worse. Below are some tips to be mindful of when taking selfies. 

  • Follow the rules. Whether you are in a national park or visiting a part of a city or area you are unfamiliar with, follow any posted signage/rules and respect all barriers.
  • Watch where you are going. Do not take selfies while walking or moving. Have a firm footing before attempting to take a selfie to avoid tripping and falling, getting hit by vehicles, or running into other people or obstacles.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Do not take selfies while driving. Pull over to a safe spot if you want to capture the view.
  • Avoid putting yourself in an unsafe situation. When posing on top of a multi-story building, roof or bridge, avoid getting too close to the edge. 
  • Think before you send/share.  Is your selfie too revealing? Many people have been cyberbullied, lost friends or jobs or have been publicly humiliated over their split second decision to send a revealing photo to a girlfriend, boyfriend or someone they once trusted.  

Summer Screen Time
With the onset of summer break, students find themselves with more downtime. Many students fill that downtime with digital devices. It is important to remember that our students spent a good majority of the school year on devices for academic purposes and to stay connected with friends. Summer is a good time for students to reflect on how much time they are spending scrolling social media, messaging on their phones, playing video games, and binging YouTube or Netflix instead of spending time outside. Below are some summer tips and tricks on how to manage screen time as a family.

  • Figure out what rules you will realistically be able to enforce. 
  • Decide whether screen time will be a given in your family or if it should be earned as a reward.
  • Decide if screen time will be scheduled or determined on a day-by-day basis. 
  • Discuss your summer goals as a family and figure out how digital devices will or won’t play a role in achieving those goals. 
  • Create a summer tech family contract. 

Summer Tech Family Contracts
One strategy for healthy media balance is to create a summer tech family contract. You could use a premade contract like this Common Sense Media Family Media Agreement or build your own using this AAP Media Plan tool

Personal Information
More time online sometimes results in more personal information being shared. Some devices track and even share information without your knowledge. If you use wearable technology, like a fitness tracker, find out what information is being collected about you and your habits and with whom that information is being shared. Also, pay attention to whether or not you have location services enabled for the apps on your phone and wearable technology. If you do not want an app to track your location, you can disable that feature in the settings on your smartphone or the app associated with your wearable technology. 

Of course, tracking your location might be a helpful tool in situations like a long hike or to let your loved ones know where you are when you go for a run. Some applications even allow you to add emergency contacts and share your real-time location with specific people to increase safety and peace of mind. 

In the end, it is about being proactive in learning what personal information is being shared and customizing your settings to match your comfort level. 

Being mindful of how you use devices this summer will ensure a safe, fun, and balanced digital experience.