Spark the Discussion on Digital Life at Your School

Introducing Connecting Families: a new program to get parents involved now and throughout the year

September 18, 2014
Darri Stephens Senior Director, Education Content
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Parents and Families, Students

At Common Sense, we often hear from parents who want to get their school or community involved in a discussion of how media, tech, and the digital world are impacting kids. But many parents don't know where to begin. Well, now you can help parents get started!

Connecting Families is a new three-part program that offers everything you need to get families in your school or community involved in raising great digital citizens.

Today’s media and technology present many challenges as well as opportunities -- from text messaging and using social media to online gaming -- and call for new ways to raise conscientious digital citizens. Connecting Families offers everything you need to facilitate meaningful community dialogue and thoughtful conversations between parents and kids.

Our focus group testing in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles allowed us to design the program to meet the needs of parents and teens. Our resources include a step-by-step hosting guide, conversation topics, and printable resources to share -- all carefully researched and crafted by Common Sense educational technology experts.

Here's how you can implement Connecting Families:

Host a teen panel. Teen panels are an excellent way to kick off the school year because they put the voices and experiences of teens in your community at the center of the conversation. Our step-by-step guides cover every detail from the teen panel selection process to managing question-and-answer sessions during the event. You also get a field-tested list of best questions to ask the panel in order to foster a vibrant conversation.

Discuss a series of conversation cases. The program's conversation cases are designed to help parent discussion groups have authentic and productive conversations on a range of issues including sexting, cyberbullying, photo sharing, digital drama, privacy, sexual imagery, multitasking, social media, and much more. Each conversation case provides relevant, real-life stories along with key vocabulary and targeted discussion questions. You also get our Family Tip Sheets and Digital Dilemmas handouts, which you can use to bring the conversations home to kids. The Facilitator’s Guide includes our favorite adult-appropriate icebreakers, pointers for managing group conversations, and step-by-step directions on how to make the actual event a big success.

Share our family toolbox. This toolbox is packed with resources that you can share throughout the year. You'll find a digital glossary of topical vocabulary, age-appropriate family media agreements to help you set guidelines around technology use, and how-to videos on a range of media and tech subjects.

We hope you'll find Connecting Families a must-have resource for your school and community. Please let us know how it's working for you, and share any insights that may help your school connect with families and strengthen the vital home-to-school connection.