Category Archives: CommonSenseMedia

Common Sense Media Tip of the Week 10/03

digital_citizenship-certified_school-med CS_supporter_school-BIG-300x62October is Cyberbullying Awareness Month. This school year, you never know what might bubble up as the heady brew of hormones, relationships, and technology is stirred. Digital drama will play out in texts, on social media, and on popular teen websites. From forums that let kids pose hurtful questions to self-destructing messaging apps, new technologies enable novel ways to get attention, provoke, and try out online personas — and they go viral fast.

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Common Sense Tip of the Week 09/26

CS_supporter_school-BIG-300x62 digital_citizenship-certified_school-medWhat’s the easiest thing you can do to impress prospective schools? It’s not your GPA. It’s not the debate team. It’s your Facebook – and your TwitterSnapchatYouTubeVine, and any other social media feeds that high schools and colleges can seeAnd yes, they’re looking. Get answers to the most important questions about what schools want to see here. 

It is important for your kids to understand how their social media feeds will impact their future.  They don’t need to delete all their photos, but they should certainly understand what is appropriate and what needs to be taken down.  Be sure to share this article with your kids, young and old, who are using social media. Remember, it is developmentally difficult for a 13 year old to think about what their 25 year old self will think of their Instagram post! But, you can remind them that their posts will be viewed by their high school and college Admission Counselors!

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.

Common Sense Tip of the Week 09/19

digital_citizenship-certified_school-med CS_supporter_school-BIG-300x62Which books do you remember most from your childhood?  The stories that made you laugh, cry, and dream?  As you look for great reads for your kids, remember Common Sense offers a variety of curated book lists for children of all ages including 44 Books that Teach Empathy 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They’re 12 and Award-Winning Books for TeensAnd, if reading is a challenge in your home, check out our blog post with top tips for How to Raise a Reader.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.

Lower School Curriculum Night – Digital Resources

By Debra Cardonedigital library
Lower School Librarian

September brings the start of a new school year, and once again classes begin, it is not long before your child will need to do research or a project.

Why not give your 21st Century learner a head start by taking the time to view and explore our Lower School Digital Resources that were introduced during Curriculum Night. Continue reading

Common Sense Media Tip of the Week: 09/12

CS_supporter_school-BIG-300x62 digital_citizenship-certified_school-medWhile most adults would agree that face-to-face contact is important, there’s no doubt that online communication continues to change how we find, form, and maintain relationships. But the truth is, teens have always had their own codes, slang, and shorthand that adults weren’t meant to know. Now, in addition to cool catchphrases, they have an arsenal of tools that can sum up a sentiment in one image. While we don’t want our kids to lose the art of conversation (especially at the dinner table), we can’t deny the power we keep in our pockets and purses that has transformed the way we connect — or disconnect. Continue reading

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 9/2/2016


Did you know that Hamlin is a member of national nonprofit Common Sense‘s Supporter School network?

Did you know that Hamlin is a member of national nonprofit Common Sense‘s Supporter School network?

This membership demonstratesdigital_citizenship-certified_school-med our ongoing commitment to help empower our children to make safe, responsible decisions online and thrive in a world of media and technology. To help kick off Character Month, Common Sense just published this blog post, How to Raise Good Humans in a Digital World.  Check it out to learn five easy ways to teach character strengths and life skills to kids of all ages using media and technology. Continue reading

Common Sense Media & Hamlin Partnership … year 3


Dear Parents, We’re excited to again be working with Common Sense this year as part of their Supporter School digital_citizenship-certified_school-medProgram (our third year). We’ve partnered with Common Sense because we are fully committed to empowering our children to make safe, responsible decisions online and help them take advantage of the best that technology has to offer for learning. Many of you may know Common Sense for their movie, TV, and book ratings and reviews, but they also provide a wealth of education resources that we will be implementing in a variety of ways.

As a member school, we are taking a whole-community approach to digital citizenship and will provide students and families with the support and tools you need to navigate the digital world in the classroom and at home. We will be sharing Common Sense’s best resources with you throughout the school year, including timely tips and advice, as well as engaging in parent and educator workshops and sharing best practices with a network of member independent schools in the Bay Area and across the country.

To prepare for the back-to-school questions and concerns you may have, check out Back-to-School Rules for Cell Phones, What is Pokémon Go?, and 5 Social Media Musts for Teens. Visit for more information, and we will keep you updated about this program through coffees, events, and weekly blog postings right here.

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Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 6/2/2016



Our year is coming to a close and educators, parents and students are looking forward to a change in routine.  But, as we head into the summer, I want to be sure to address one of the biggest parenting frustrations I hear about time and time again: setting screen limits, picking appropriate media, and figuring out Snapchat. We’re raising “digital natives” but we’re supposed to be the experts? Actually, no. It turns out, the most effective way to help your kid have a healthy relationship to media is by being their media mentor.

Many of us think we need to have all the answers. Or we just stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best. But, as so often happens, the middle road is juuuuust right. Researcher Alexandra Samuel surveyed 10,000 North American families and found that some parents put strict limits on what their kids could watch or play (“limiters”), especially when they’re young, while others (especially parents of teens) let their kids control screen time and embrace the idea that more tech is good tech (“enablers”).

But about a third of the parents — whom she calls “media mentors” — consistently engaged in media with their kids, despite their ages, and these kids had better outcomes. Kids of media mentors were less likely to access porn, chat online with a stranger, and impersonate an adult or peer online. Exactly what you’re hoping for as a parent, right?  We have the power to talk with our kids about what they’re seeing, to understand the media in new ways with them, to help them see how it might relate to their outside world, how to look up from their media…. Don’t we want kids today to have people around them who are interacting with them while they’re interacting with media?

So what does it take to be a media mentor“? Please read these 5 steps to learn how you can be a media mentor.  

In addition, I wanted to leave you with a list of the top picks for out-of-school learning from our expert teachers. With these great apps, games, and websites, kids can practice core skills, as well as pursue lifelong learning in whatever interests them most. Parents, take note!

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 5/5/2016



 Today, Common Sense is proud to release a new research brief: Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance. The brief addresses many of the questions and concerns that parents, educators, and others have about about children’s use of media and technology. Are children addicted to their devices? And, even if children aren’t actually addicted, how should we understand unhealthy engagement with media? What are the human costs of this “always connected” lifestyle, especially for our children?  Along with the report, we’re releasing the results of a poll, Dealing with Devices: The Parent-Teen Dynamic which asks 1,240 teens and parents how they feel about the technology in their lives.

With the release of the report and the poll, Common Sense Media continues to assert itself as a leader in impactful and important research, which will have a long reach in its implications for parents, educators, policymakers, and others. This research brief was featured on the Today show this morning in an exclusive interview with Jim, and will continue to make news in the coming days. All report materials can be found on the Common Sense website.

Below are highlights from the poll:

  • Half of teens and over one-quarter of parents feel they are addicted to their mobile device

  • At least a few times a week, more than three-quarters of parents and 41% of teens feel the other gets distracted by their devices and doesn’t pay attention when they are trying to talk

  • 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages, and other notifications

  • Despite conflicts, most parents feel their teens’ use of mobile devices has made no difference or even helped their relationship.

And selected key findings from the white paper:

  • Internet addiction is potentially serious. There is no agreement on whether it’s a true addiction, how to measure it, or whether it’s something that is highly related to or even caused by another disorder, such as depression or ADHD. However, “Internet gaming disorder,” which involves excessive online gaming, may be included by the American Psychiatric Association in the next version of the DSM (the resource used to diagnose psychiatric disorders).

  • Multitasking may be harming our ability to stay focused. Multitasking is actually a misnomer; we may think we’re doing multiple things simultaneously, but we’re often rapidly shifting our attention between individual tasks. Research shows that multitasking can hurt your ability to get things done, slow you down, and make it harder to remember things that happened while you were multitasking.

  • Media and technology use is a source of friction for many families. Many children feel their parents check their devices too often, and a large number of parents struggle with limiting their children’s use of media and technology.

The report also reveals large gaps in our knowledge about technology addiction; to understand how media use affects kids as they grow, we need much better research.

Here’s what we suggest that you (and all families!) can do about it:

  • Encourage families to find balance by declaring tech-free zones and times, choosing age-appropriate, high-quality media and tech for kids, and connecting with kids and supporting learning by talking about the media they consume. Parents and kids alike need to understand the effects of multitasking, and parents can reinforce these lessons by being good role models.

  • If there is ever a question about whether a kid’s (or adult’s) media use is problematic, parents and educators can refer to our research or the Technology Addiction parent concern center where they will find dozens of advice articles, FAQs from parents, and other resources to identify the issue. And of course, we recommend families to seek expert help if needed

  • Establish ground-rules for homes, classrooms, cars, dinner tables, and offices by using our Family Media Agreement and Device Contract so that everyone can make the most out of their media and tech time.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 4/28/2016



You’re sitting down to dinner and  — buzz buzz! — your phone starts vibrating.  You’re tucking your kid into bed and – squawk, squawk! — an app begs to be played.  It never fails; technology can interrupt our most treasured family moments.

Common Sense’s latest blog post, 3 Places Families Should Make Phone Free, offers practical advice about how to help tackle this dilemma.  And, if you want to kick-start conversations with friends and family around social media and technology use, host a special Bytes & Bites Community Media Dinner.  Here’s a link to a comprehensive guide, co-created by Common Sense and The Family Dinner Project.  It lays out a full game plan to help you create an evening filled with adults and kids sharing perspectives, discussing hot topics, and learning more about each other’s experiences.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense