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Technology - What to Tell Your Child

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

  1. Most of the Internet is private; what I do on the Internet or using a smartphone is private
  2. Making friends through the Internet is like making friends in real life
  3. I saw it (read it) so it must be true
  4. 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
  5. Because I can, I will
  6. I am safe on the Internet/using a smartphone
  7. People are who they say they are on the Internet; intentions are clear
  8. Taking small risks is exciting (and can’t hurt me)
  9. I am in control when I use technology
  10. I cannot be hurt by friending a stranger or allowing a stranger to follow me
  11. I can assess my own risk and make the right decision because I know how to use technology better than my parents
  12. 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

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Parents will monitor a child’s Internet/smartphone use and use software to assist monitoring on all devices
  4. Don’t allow texting or chatting until 7th/8th grade
  5. Set limits to time spent on technology; insist on technology-free activities
  6. 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.
  7. Never give out personal information online
  8. You are always expected to be kind & respectful online; mean, hurtful or vulgar communication is never acceptable
  9. Parent’s passwords should not be known by children
  10. Parents should take cell phones, game controllers, or other i-devices at night, at dinner table, at family time, etc…
  11. Don’t give younger children a smartphone; give them a parent-phone  Eg. Kajeet  Children younger than 7th grade should not be given smartphones.
  12. 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.)
  13. 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.
  14. Children should never sign up for online accounts, or install new apps/software without parents’ permission.
  15. Never forward scare-mail, group texts or simply because someone tells you to.
  16. There are technology-free zones and times. They are…
  17. Consider using a smartphone contract with your child… Search: smartphone contract for kids


Additional Pages:
Specific Recommendations:
Lastest Research:
Technology Contracts for Kids:

Specific Issues and Concerns About:

            Social Media:
            Video Games:

Additional Related Resources: