MCDS Parent

Tech Survey Results

APRIL 2018

Welcome to the MCDS Parent Tech Report for April 2018! These data were collected from MCDS parents via survey links (emailed directly and also linked in the Pipeline). Participation in the survey was voluntary; names were not required.

Since technology changes quickly (and so does your child!), we plan to conduct similar versions of this survey semiannually, in April and October.

We recommend you begin by scrolling through the headlines below, then find your child's grade from the pulldown menu (top-right on desktop; top-left on mobile) to review more specific data.

Thank you as always for your commitment to thoughtful parenting in the digital age.

-The MCDS Tech Department

📊 Sample size

  • Overall, 46% of all students are represented in these data, including:
    • 49% of Lower School students, and
    • 43% of Upper School students.


  • As a parent community, you overwhelmingly enjoy using technology in your own life/work.
  • Your biggest worry for your children when it comes to technology, is "Effects of screen time on focus, attention, and/or cognition." This is especially true in the younger grades, and also largely true in upper grades.
  • In the upper grades, we also see an uptick in the overall second- and third-place concerns: "Stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings caused by technology," and "Negative impacts on interpersonal relationships."
  • Here's the overview for the whole school:
  • There is a wide range of values and perspectives around technology among our parent community:
    • "I think more restrictions on the school-given Chromebook should be considered." -7th grade parent
    • "My child complains that the MCDS tech department is too constraining with the use of technology such that it impacts his/her ability to complete work and do indepth [sic] research." -8th grade parent
    • "I think the Tech Department team does a fantastic job with technology for the kids." -2nd grade parent
    • "Some parents like me really love that their child has a phone. I think it helps to encourage my daughter's social skills and think it's important for her to communicate with friends once the school day is over." -6th grade parent
    • "I think more harm comes from these devices than good by a long shot since my kids have mostly used them for social networking purposes outside school. It's a poor way to socialize in my view." -6th grade parent
    • "The issue is starting to get more complicated bc [my child] wants to text friends, and I want to support that pro-social aspect of using tech, while still keeping it very limited." -5th grade parent
  • You see value in surveys/reports such as these:
    • "Thank you for your great work! I commend your initiative and cannot wait to see the output."
    • "Thank you -- this is a hot topic in our house and we'd love to learn more! "
    • "Thank you for working so thoughtfully and diligently on this new piece and part of the child development / parenting / teaching process."
    • "Thank you for doing this! would be wonderful to have community guidelines surrounding all this."


  • From 5th to 6th grade, we see a significant leap in students who have smartphones with data plans. Very few K-5 students have a smartphone with data plan. About half our 6th graders report having one. Almost all our 8th graders do.
  • While many of our students (especially those in grades K-6) do not have smartphones, many do have "Tablets, iPod-Touches, and similar devices that run apps on wifi networks." Such devices often come with texting, social media, and gaming capabilities, unless otherwise configured by the parent. These devices are most common in the middle grades, with the exception of 4th.


  • While we do see a broad progression of more students who play video games in the upper grades, the trajectory is not so linear as with smartphones. Video game consoles are most common in grades 3 and 6.
  • Frequency of video game play seems to increase with age. With each higher grade level, we see higher numbers of students who say it is "Somewhat true" or "Very true" that they play video games at least once per week.
  • Xbox is the most popular gaming console in every grade except 7th, where Playstation is the most popular.


  • In every grade, data indicate a fairly wide variety among all the categories (with some skew toward the higher categories), when it comes to screen time outside school. Collectively, the data look like this:
  • Many families indicated this was a difficult calculation to discern. For example, a Friday-night family movie could easily place a child in the top category. Some said it was unclear whether this calculation should include digital homework. We will refine this question for future surveys.
  • Some parents of older students noted that YouTube or Netflix started to take away from homework or reading time, and they configured or added restrictions accordingly.
  • For guidance on best practices around screen time, visit and click the links under the "Articles & Research" heading.


  • One kindergarten parent said, "We do take fun selfies [as a family] using Snapchat but do not participate in the social media aspect of Snapchat -- I literally do not have friends on Snapchat."
  • Aside from scenarios such as that, MCDS students don't use social media much K-5. We see higher numbers of students participating in social media in 6th-8th grades.
  • FYI-Most social media platforms stipulate a minimum age of 13 for a person to have her/his own account.
  • On a different note, many parents in all grades report their child uses FaceTime or similar video chat technology.


  • We found most survey respondents had not referred to prior to the survey.
  • We also found most families in every grade do not have a written/signed agreement around technology at home. If you'd like help starting an agreement (or refining your existing one), click here and find the link near the top of the page that says "Family Media & Device Contract 'Starter Kit.'"

We hope this report will prove helpful in terms of context-based decision making and other digital-parenting resources.

If your child is returning to MCDS in the fall, please look out for several parent education opportunities around technology, including grade-level roundtable meetings and special tech forums, panels, and events.

Thank you again!