Rules of the Digital Playground

By Carrie Paine
Over the years, I’ve spoken to my graduate students and continuing adult educators about digital citizenship and the evils that may lurk on the internet playground. As an educator for Wisconsin Connections Academy, a K-12 public online school, I promote these concepts to educators and parents alike. It’s vital to not only understand the dangers that may exist in the depths of the internet, social media and collaborative gaming realms — but to also know how to teach good stewardship of these spaces. I am speaking about students and their online habits. Today’s students are not only citizens of their countries, towns and cities, they are also international citizens through the internet. Just as students learn the rules of the physical playground, they must now learn the rules of the modern, digital playground. 

Between all of the available apps, social networks, games and other outlets where information can be shared and social interactions take place, it’s not easy for adults to monitor everywhere students visit on the vast web. Digital citizenship knows no age or boundaries, making this practice valuable to everyone who is active on cyberspace. 

The practice of teaching responsible internet usage at home and school has gained momentum in recent years, as children today live and breathe in the digital space. Just as we were drilled as children to stop, drop, and roll if we were on fire—educators must drill the safety rules of digital citizenship, and instill these responsible habits in today’s students. Here are some tips to get started:

Screen Time Recommendations

18 months and younger: No screen time.

2-5 years old: One hour of screen time is recommended per day, depending on the activity. This time may also be broken up into smaller, timed segments.

6-18 years old: No limit is currently set by the medical field, but as a mother of two boys, I limit the use to school work and one hour of game playing time. I also have a separate charging area in a general area of the house, and my kids are not allowed to take their phones into their rooms.

Social Network Rules 

1. Do not join social networks unless you meet the age requirements.

2. Do not “friend” people you do not know in person or consider to be a friend in real life.

3. Do not share personal information. Five things you should never share online are confidential information about your identity, financial information, your schedule, work information, and passwords or clues. But feel free to share information such as your favorite food. 

4. Pause before sharing photos of oneself — even Snapchat photos can be saved by others. If you would not share a photo with classmates or family, do not share on social media.

5. Remember negative brings negative. If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it on social media.  

Gaming Rules

1. Students should not play a game that has a recommended age higher than their own.

2. Students should not play virtual games with people they do not know in person. Only game with friends they speak to regularly and spend time with in person.

3. Do not download any added tools without parent permission.

The digital playground gets larger each day, and it is important for parents, teachers and students to know some best practices to navigate their time online. 

Carrie Paine is a K-12 Technology Teacher for Wisconsin Connections Academy, an affiliate of the Appleton Area School District

Meemic Foundation Traditional Grant

By Eric Henrickson
Meemic Insurance

Need funding for a classroom field trip? Looking for flexible chairs for your students or perhaps support for your STEM initiatives? Whatever the need, The Meemic Foundation is here to help with many of your special projects! Apply for grant for funding up to $500 to support your classroom, department, campus or district needs.

Deadline is Sept. 30, 2017

Get the full details and rules at:
When Foundation Club Members applied for one of The Meemic Foundation’s back-to-school grants, we asked, “What are you looking forward to the most with the new school year?” We got almost 7,000 responses, so it’s not surprising that some common themes emerged.

Many teachers just like to meet all the new students. Several were looking forward to teaching new subjects, grade levels, technology (woo hoo – 3D printers!) or curricula, and meeting the new “kiddos.” More than a few noted all the things students teach them, as well.

Here are some of our favorites.

“Working with teenagers! I have taught for 24 years and still enjoy watching the light bulb turn on!”

Holly B., Milwaukee

“I am looking forward to implementing new labs and activities which foster active engagement and learning in my classroom.”

Pamela S., Sheboygan Falls

“I’m looking forward to meeting my new students and their families. Making those new connections and renewing old friendships is the best part of my job!”

Michele S., Green Bay

 “I love meeting new students each year and getting to know them. I feel that each student adds a new color to the rainbow of my room. The more colors I have, the more rich my life becomes.”

Patricia C., Green Bay

“I always look forward to seeing the students smiling faces. I also enjoy listening to their stories about their summers and how much they are looking forward to the school year.”

Kristin T., Sheboygan

“The start of every school year is so exciting because it holds the promise of so much! All of the things we will learn and grow from, all of the new students and families to meet and get to know, but mostly all of the wonderful memories you get to make as a 9-10-year-old!”

Emily M., Wausau

 “Meeting the students at my new schools, especially the refugee students. I am expecting to learn a lot from their experiences in different countries and discovering how to best support them during their time of transition to the USA!”

Jeffrey G., Milwaukee

“I am looking forward to teaching the same subject for the second consecutive year, which is a first in my short teaching career! I am excited to refine the work I did last year, add new activities and experiences, and make the course as engaging, meaningful, and memorable for students as possible!”

Matthew A., Madison

“Every year is a new opportunity to innovate and pick up the momentum from where it left off the year before. I am blessed to teach the same students for multiple years in the ever-changing subject of music.  There is something new around every corner, so I am most excited to see what new musical experiences I can share with my students and, perhaps more importantly, what new music they can teach me about as we work together to help each individual reach his or her full musical potential!”

Michelle S., Oshkosh

 “I am looking forward to implementing realistic, career-based lessons that will help my students grow as future independent successful employees. I want to help my students develop the skills needed to formulate a plan for their future and know how to accomplish it.”

Katie B., Vassar

For information on The Meemic Foundation’s current grant opportunities, visit

​Youth Entrepreneur Camps – A fun way to learn about Business

“Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t start a business”. That was what Sophia (a youth entrepreneur camper) said to me last summer.  And the best part is she was right! It is amazing the ideas that kids come up with during camp.  Sometimes they come with something they have been working on and sometimes they think of something at camp. I have seen everything from lawn mowing, tutoring, pet sitting, creating t-shirts, teaching music, creating operating systems, and developing apps. One trend that I’ve seen in the past few years is an increase in creating social enterprises (a company that gives back and helps others).

In the one week youth entrepreneur camp kids ages 9 and up (there’s two separate age groups) come up with their own business idea (based on their strengths and interests) and learn business basics such as marketing, financials, customer service, and branding. They play the biz ops game™ (a game based learning experience where small teams of 4-5 run a paper airplane business) to learn about business operations, create, market and run a real lemonade stand business (to raise funds for the camp scholarship fund), learn from experienced entrepreneurs, present their business ideas to their peers and create a poster to present their business to friends and families. They leave the camp with the tools and knowledge they need to start their business.  
How did it all get started? I would like to think of it as fate!  I was a very entrepreneurial kid (the e-seedling story is on our website with entrepreneurial parents and I realized how much fun it was (even though I had many failures) and the freedom that it allowed (we took many family trips).  Even though I went into teaching and what I call the “work world”, I longed for the freedom of being an entrepreneur. 
When I was 27, I started a business with a partner and realized that I had no clue on how to run a “real” business. I learned more in the next 3 years, then probably anytime in my entire career. The business was purchased by a regional firm where I again found myself as an employee. Years later, I was fortunate enough to get a job at the UW-Madison Small Business Development Center which held a youth entrepreneur camp. In 2008, when the economy suffered, the camp was in jeopardy of being cancelled. I proposed to rewrite the curriculum so that we could teach it in-house. It has become very successful and each year it fills earlier. Since there is a huge need, and the SBDC doesn’t have the resources to hold more camps, I decided to again become an entrepreneur and start E-seedling to run camps and help others to do the empower kids through entrepreneurship.  I agree with Sophia, that you’re never too young to start a business, you just need the opportunity and the knowledge of how.