Below you'll find many suggestions for speaking to your child about technology, as well as suggestions for setting rules and understanding what typically puts children at risk online. We recognize that every rule or suggestion may not be a perfect fit for every family. We hope that these suggestions help frame your own family conversations and guide your decisions. However, there are some critically important points that are now universally held by child development experts, pediatricians and other experts in the area of Internet safety. They include:
Excessive screen time is not healthy for children. This especially applies to smartphones. If you feel that your child is using technology (ie. Smartphone) too much, then he or she likely is.
Excessive video game play is not healthy for children. Even games like Minecraft. Nor are games that are rated for older children when played by younger children.
The most risky apps for children and teenagers are those that enable anonymous communication.
Children’s Most Common Misconceptions and Mistakes
Most of the Internet is private; what I do on the Internet or using a smartphone is private
Making friends through the Internet is like making friends in real life
I saw it (read it) so it must be true
I am in charge of my technology and get to make decisions; My parents gave me a ____ so I can do what I want with it
Because I can, I will
I am safe on the Internet/using a smartphone
People are who they say they are on the Internet; intentions are clear
Taking small risks is exciting (and can’t hurt me)
I am in control when I use technology
I cannot be hurt by friending a stranger or allowing a stranger to follow me
I can assess my own risk and make the right decision because I know how to use technology better than my parents
I am not impulsive; I don't make moral decisions based on impulse
Engage Your Children Often…
Keep the lines of communication open and emotionally safe for your child to address
Try not to overreact; consider offering your child opportunities to speak freely without interruption, judgment or even a response from you for a period of time. Just listen.
Listen with compassion first, work on strategies second
Work with your school, teachers and administration to resolve conflict and issues
Internet Rules for Parents to Consider for Their Children
Parents have a child’s passwords to all online accounts; parents will use them to periodically explore their child’s digital lives, including i-device texts
Children will not use social networking sites/apps until 7th/8th grade; children should never be allowed to use sites/apps that enable anonymous communication
Parents will monitor a child’s Internet/smartphone use and use software to assist monitoring on all devices
Don’t allow texting or chatting until 7th/8th grade
Set limits to time spent on technology; insist on technology-free activities
No friending or responding to strangers including via email, text and posts; especially true for Instagram! No allowing strangers to follow you on social media.
Never give out personal information online
You are always expected to be kind & respectful online; mean, hurtful or vulgar communication is never acceptable
Parent’s passwords should not be known by children
Parents shouldtake cell phones, game controllers, or other i-devices at night, at dinner table, at family time, etc…
Don’t give younger children a smartphone; give them a parent-phone Eg. Kajeet Children younger than 7th grade should not be given smartphones.
Children should never post photos/videos of themselves or other children without your permission or permission from the parents of the other child. (Set very clear expectations about posting photos and videos and the use of YouTube.)
Children should expect parents to check a child’s text messages or any other form of virtual communication. Clearly state that deleted messages will result in consequences.
Children should never sign up for online accounts, or install new apps/software without parents’ permission.
Never forward scare-mail, group texts or simply because someone tells you to.
There are technology-free zones and times. They are…
Consider using a smartphone contract with your child… Search: smartphone contract for kids