Tag Archives: common sense media

Hamlin Hosts Common Sense Media Teen Panel

On January 15 a large group of Grade 8 students from schools all over San Francisco (including Kinnari A. and Chloe H. from Hamlin) shared thoughts about their media use. The event was facilitated by Dana Blum from Common Sense Media.

Since 2003, Common Sense has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools. Every day, millions of parents and educators trust Common Sense reviews and advice to help them navigate the digital world with their kids. Together with policymakers, industry leaders, and global media partners, we’re building a digital world that works better for all kids, their families, and their communities.

The panelists addressed several topics. Below are some of the items that were discussed:

-The use of social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok

-The drawbacks of anonymous posting on social media

-The allure of watching videos for entertainment and connectivity

-The addictive aspects of online apps and websites

-The use of click bait to keep young people online

-The positive aspects of learning to build a computer and play a ukulele using tutorial videos on YouTube

-The downside of phone usage in terms of sleep deprivation

-The connection between excessive media use and anxiety/depression

To learn more about Common Sense Media, please visit: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

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 commonsense.org 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 – 11/12/2015


Are you wondering what are the best kinds of social media apps for kids?  The problem is that it isn’t always easy to find social sites specifically designed to be beneficial for kids. Though 45% of teens say they use social media every day, they rank it lower in personal enjoyment than every other kind of media, according to our just released Census Report on Tweens and Teens and Media Usage .  It is possible many teens use social media simply because their friends do and they don’t want to miss anything, rather than actually liking what social media has to offer.

Kids are moving away from having one social-media destination  and instead are downloading different apps for different purposes.  We have compiled some apps that make it easier to promote positive interactions, as well as those apps that enable teens to explore their interests, be creative, make connections and learn about the world.  Take a look at these apps that might make your kids (and you) a little happier.

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

img from: http://jasoncurlee.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/socialmedia.jpg

Common Sense San Francisco Teen Panel Discussion

It was standing room only this morning @Hamlin School; we were honored to host the Common Sense San Francisco Teen Panel Discussion.


The event was opened to San Francisco’s Common Sense Media Supporter Schools and a packed group of parents listened as Bay Area Director Dana Blum asked the panel about what it is like to be a middle schooler on October 21, 2015 – or “Back to the Future Day“.  Their responses were honest, clear, thoughtful, and at times surprising – we could not have had a better panel of students – thank you.  This week’s focus for Digital Citizenship week has been – it’s time to have the talk and Hamlin’s hope is that today’s panel will start a discussion in classrooms as well as homes.

The session was highlighted by not only this Huffington Post article on the tables as participants arrived, but also with this video:

examples of the many ways technology can be used to “fill buckets”

For the parents who could not make it this morning an audio recording is available here:


It was also a great day to announce that @Hamlin has gone beyond being a Common Sense Media Supporter School and yesterday was recognized as a Digital Citizenship Certified School.  As our vision is that “all Hamlin faculty are #digcit educators” recognition is shared and celebrated school wide.  That said, there were also six teacher leaders who were simultaneously recognized as Digital Citizenship Certified Educators for 2015-16: Ms. Brown, Ms. Davis, Mr. Dworkin, Mr. Lengel, Mr. Picketts, and Ms. Windell – thank you for your thoughtful guidance and work to ensure our girls are ready to meet the challenges of their increasingly digital times.

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 9/23/2015

CS_supporter_school-BIGKids may express reluctance toward reading for a variety of reasons. But, Common Sense can provide some guidance for reluctant readers. 

As with anything kids would rather not do, forcing them, comparing them to other kids, and using other negative reinforcements backfire. Following are some ideas to encourage kids to read: 

Encourage reading for funWimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney says that sometimes adults focus so much on getting kids to read they forget about the fun. But kids who are having fun will read. 

Go graphic. There are many high-quality graphic novels that draw in readers through illustrations, short-form text, and engrossing story lines. 

Seek out sports. For kids who’d rather be physically active than read a book, consider books about teams or by athletes, such as You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter about the famous lefty; Hothead by Cal Ripken Jr.; or other books about sports

Think big print. The Here’s Hank series by Henry Winkler features a dyslexic hero and a large, easy-to-read typeface. 

Let them follow their interests. You may not love Captain Underpants, but if that’s what your kid wants to read, put aside your judgment for the greater good. 

Find characters who reflect your kid’s experience. Kids like to see themselves in the stories they read. Look for books with characters and situations that mirror their experience – for example, kids of color or with divorced parents or who live on a farm or who love dogs. Whatever helps kids identify with the story will keep them more engaged. 

Look for different reading opportunities. Reading is valuable no matter what the format: Pokemon cards, product labels, game manuals, recipes. Mix in shorter-form material with longer stuff. 

Get techy. Ebooks and storybook apps that offer some multimedia along with the narrative can be entertaining and educational and may draw in kids who are turned off by text alone. Use them alongside traditional reading. 

Fact-check. With their amazing stats, incredible images, short-form text, and start-anywhere formats, books of facts such as Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not entice kids who’d rather not tackle longer stories. 

Take turns. With a book your kid has chosen, take turns reading a page (or two) to each other. Ask questions along the way. 

Enjoy the week! 

love reading

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 9/16/2015


Students heading to school this year may be the most technically savvy, media-aware bunch ever. YouTube, Minecraft, and even MythBusters are being used to engage kids in class, while Instagram,WhatsApp, and Netflix occupy kids at home. This year at Back to School Night, it’s a good bet that media and technology — both in and out of school — will be hot topics.

How will your kids’ schools use technology to teach, motivate, and promote digital citizenship? There’s only one way to find out: Ask! Of course, you only get so much time with the teacher and administrators on Back to School Night, so here’s how to find out what you need to know, whether you have five, 10, or 15 minutes we have put together 18 questions to help frame your back to school night. No doubt, these questions are going to get you thinking and ensure you know what your kids’ educators and administrators are using to teach technology skills in the classroom. Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 8.56.50 AM

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 9/9/2015


If your kid is among the 75% of teens who have access to a smartphone, you’re well aware of the app obsession that can take over the brain and body in seconds. While a lot of social networking is harmless — and even beneficial — some apps are specifically designed to appeal to users’ darker impulses. Confessionals, anonymous comments, incriminating photos, rumor-mongering — that sort of thing. Worse, some apps apply location services to this already combustible mix, connecting everyone in a school and magnifying problems like cyberbullying, gossip, and physical threats; unneeded drama.

Keep an eye out for these three apps that often stir up drama in school and let’s keep the drama on the stage.

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 3/17/2015

CS_supporter_school-BIGWhile most of us would like to think we have a healthy relationship with our phones, the facts just don’t back this up!  Distracted parenting has been a hot topic recently and some experts link the rise in smartphone ownership with the rise in emergency room visits for kids under 5.  Here are a few suggestions for keeping our relationships with our phones more balanced:

  • No devices during mealtimes.
  • Leave the game-playinng (Words with Friends) until the kids are in bed.
  • No Texting or talking on the phone while driving
  • Put away the phone if the kids are swimming unattended or doing anything else potentially dangerous.
  • Designate “No Tech Zones” in your home and respect them!

Things are not all doom and gloom! Here are a few tips on how to integrate this amazing technology into our lives for the better.  Check out a few of our favorite apps while you are standing in the slow line at the grocery store with your kids!

  • Kids 2-7 years old: 
    ·      Hoopa City: A pre-school friendly world-building game that appeals to older kids as well. There are no rules at all – kids will have a blast figuring out everything they can build, from beaches to amusement parks to universities.
    ·      Barefoot World Atlas: An educational app that gives children an interactive look at animals, indigenous people, science, and hobbies around the world. With beautiful graphics and high-quality narration, this app puts kids in charge of their learning. 

  • Kids 7-12:
    ·      Duolingo: Using a fun, game-style system, kids (and grown-ups) can learn any of five languages – Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French.
    ·      Scribblenauts Remix: A popular puzzle app that encourages and rewards players for using their imagination. Open-ended situational challenges will keep kids on their toes and empower them to devise creative solutions.

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 3/3/2015

CS_supporter_school-BIGAll kids are naturally creative and the question for parents and caregivers is how do we foster that creativity.  Common Sense has done the work for you and hand selected a variety of tools to help you foster your kids’ interest in art, science, music, writing and even directing.  Take a look at the Modern Kids’ Guide to Crafting, Coding, Composing and more and let loose your inner creative streak.  Whether you’re a teacher or parent, take this opportunity to sit down and help unleash your kids creative potential.  You’ll be amazed at the results!

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 1/20/2015


The annual International Consumer Electronics Show brings over 150,000 people from all over the globe to Las Vegas every January to pitch, peruse and explore new products that range from extraordinary to ridiculous.  Common Sense was at the show and we scoured the street—and the web— to find some of the best and most promising products for families.  Check out our 5 cool products for kids and families and see what the future has in store.

It is tough to find stories for kids and young teenagers that don’t reinforce body stereotypes, but we found examples of books featuring characters who are comfortable with their bodies, no matter what their size or shape.  Check out these 13 books that show characters who are appreciated for their talent, skills and integrity and they don’t trade on their looks to get ahead.