Holmen technology teachers help students find balance online and face to face

HOLMEN, Wis. (WKBT) — Even young children are using social media — some on a daily basis. Teachers in Holmen want their students to find an online balance.

Children are growing up with the power to exist in two places at the same time — in-person and online.

“Students use social media at younger and younger ages,” said Lisa Risch, instructional technology coordinator for the School District of Holmen.

It is safe to say no other children in history learned as much as these children did through a camera lens. Risch has to answer the question, how much technology is too much?

“Are they still reading books enough? Are they still getting outside and getting fresh air and exercise?” Risch said.

Risch teaches children how to navigate social media and digital technology since it’s here to stay. She said about 50 percent of elementary school students in the classrooms she teaches use social media.

Many of these children are between 9 and 11 years old. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires an age of 13 to create an online account.

“I had no clue,” said Allison Anibas, a fifth-grade student at Prairie View Elementary. “It seems like not a lot of people probably follow it either.”

Allison understands how social media works.

“I think it can be used in a really good way,” she said. “In a lot of cases, it gets used in bad ways.”

Parents need to be aware of privacy issues on social media, Risch said.

“Many parents don’t see the negative things that could take place,” she said.

If someone forgets to turn off the locator on an app like Snapchat, people can track a person all the way down to a city block.

“Many of the social media apps have so many settings and the settings have become so buried with privacy,” Risch said.

Apart from privacy, there are other common costs when children use social media too often.

“The idea of feeling left out,” Risch said.

Risch worries children don’t have enough time to just be kids.

“I think one of the things that’s the scariest is how grown-up students are becoming at such a young age,” she said.

She said taking the internet away from children doesn’t teach them discipline. Students like Oliver Glaus learn how they can become leaders online.

“If one of my friends are getting bullied, try to find who it is and tell them to stop and stand up for my friend,” said Oliver, a fifth-grader at Prairie View Elementary.

The internet also can connect people when hundreds of miles stand in the way.

“I’ve never talked as much to my father-in-law in California as I did over COVID because I taught him how to use messenger,” Risch said.

Risch teaches balance in a world where childhoods grow online and face to face.

“Balance is a great word,” Risch said. “And it’s a great word for every part of our life.”

RIt’s important for parents to talk to their children about their social media use, she said. For resources, parents can use to keep children safe online click here. 

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