Technology has been becoming entrenched in our daily lives more and more. In fact, it sometimes feels like technology is taking over family life. Parents today are facing a whole new challenge of raising kids with access to everything. It is constantly at their fingertips (on the internet) and often in their pockets (cell phones). The end of the school year is rapidly approaching and kids are about to experience a lot more free time over the summer and with that comes the challenge of developing ground rules for technology.
The Importance of Technology Rules
Schools recognize the need for classroom technology rules and we need to do so at home too. Typical classroom tech rules include only visiting designated websites for assignments and activities. Likewise, most children understand that they can only use designated “safe” search engines. They should search for topics that they won’t mind the administrators seeing. At home, parents serve as the administrators. Children need to understand that parents have access to check on the websites they visit.
Technology rules are needed but they can be challenging to come up with and to stick to. I have worked with LifeLock in the past and they are certainly a leader in technology and privacy. Now, they were partnering with Dr. Sandra Abrams, Ph.D., an adolescent education expert and mother of two, to help advise parents on the subject of technology ground rules.
I am pleased to share a post written by Dr. Abrams in partnership with LifeLock. It provides some excellent information to prepare you to have the tech talk with your kids. It’s important to make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page. Come together as parents to pause and think about the tech and digital device access you collectively grant your children. Have The Talk with your partner before you have The Smart Talk with your kids.
How To Develop Technology Rules For Tweens, Teens, And Kids
Authored by Sandra Schamroth Abrams, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Adolescent Education, St. John’s University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @shsabrams
Staying on top of kids’ technology use is a constant practice and can seem like a daunting challenge. After a long day, it’s tempting to let the kids sit in front of a screen even if doing so makes you cringe. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. According to the Common Sense Media 2016 Census Report, 85 percent of surveyed parents think it is important to monitor their kids’ online activity .
As your kids get older, their relationship with technology also matures – screen time likely increases and technology becomes more ingrained in your kids’ life. As parents, it’s important to have an informed role in our kids’ online lives to guide them on what is age-and-stage appropriate.
A good place to start for developing a role in your kids’ tech habits is having regular, informal conversations with your kids about digital safety and responsibility. However, before you talk tech safety with your kid, your co-parent and you need to be on the same page. What seems logical to you may not be as obvious to the other parent, and even if you agree today, when your child is eight-years old and has only occasional access to a phone or tablet, you may not agree later on what is appropriate for a tweenager or even a teenager.
Digital Safety And Responsibility
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) has recommended that parents be “media mentors.” Family structures can vary; what follows is intended for you, your co-parent, and anyone else who is caring for your child and overseeing his or her media use. Regardless of your child’s age, here are some questions that you and other supervising adults may want to consider as you think about your child and his or her online activities:
- How much time each day should your child be allowed to spend on a device? None? One hour? Three? Five?
- What is your child allowed to do on the device? Is texting okay? What about surfing the internet or using a social media app like Facebook?
- If your child is old enough to have his or her own device; will you insist that it be protected with a passcode so the information on the device is somewhat secure if the device is lost? Will you be sure that you know the passcode? What will you do if your child changes the passcode?
- Will you help choose and approve the apps that your child downloads?
- How much money will your child be allowed to spend on apps each week or month—and who is paying?
- Some social media sites have a minimum age requirement for creating an account. Will you make sure your child follows such rules?
- Will you look at your child’s phone on a regular basis to review his or her activity including who he or she is texting? Do you recognize his or her Snapchat friends? In which ways will you be transparent about parental control?
- What rules will you have to prevent oversharing of information (e.g., your home address, your child’s birthdate) and interacting with strangers?
- What ongoing conversations will you have with your child to help him or her think critically about device use? How about online activity, and socially responsible behavior?
How To Talk To Kids About Technology And Tech Rules
Once you and other supervising adults are on the same page, take the conversation to your kid(s). One way to do this is to have The Smart Talk, a free online tool developed by National PTA and LifeLock. The purpose of The Smart Talk is to help you develop technology ground rules with your child. The questionnaire covers key digital topics, including:
- Safety & Privacy
- Screen Time
- Social Media & Respect
- Apps & Downloads
- Texting & Calling
In the process of reviewing these topics, you may even find that you’re not practicing the safest online behaviors yourself. For example, how strong are your online passwords? Are you using the same online credentials for multiple accounts?
When you think about the growing role of technology in our children’s lives, it is essential to have a plan. Having a solid understanding of what constitutes responsible online behavior for kids is a good place to start. After all, whether they’re crossing the street or surfing the net, you want your kids to be sensible, perceptive, and safe.
5 Online Reputation Management Tips To Teach Your Kids
It is also important to consider talking to your children openly about the effects of their actions online and how to effectively create a positive online reputation. The topic of Online Reputation Management Tips is growing in importance all the time for all individuals- both adults and children.
Developing positive habits with regards to what your children share online can go a long way towards building a reputation management strategy for their future and keeping them safe. Here are just a few topics to keep in mind when having the talk with your children about their internet use and how to protect their reputation online.
Private Information Is Not So Private Once Online
Explain to your child that when they update their status or post a picture on Facebook that it then becomes public information. Even if they were to go back and delete the status or picture it won’t necessarily go away because if a friend or someone else happens to post the information on their own wall the status or image lives on in cyberspace. What they, or you, may think is private, is in fact public.
Be careful what you post online because those things can come back to haunt you in the future. Likewise, don’t post pictures of friends without their permission because they have a right to their privacy too.
What Kids Share Online Becomes Their Permanent Record
The information that is shared online could be used against them later on in life by college admission officers, hiring managers, and even potential dating partners to create a snapshot judgment of their character simply by searching their name. The idea of a permanent record file folder from the past has now shifted to a digital record for all to see.
Actions Online Affect Others
With the increase in social media usage there has also been an increase in cyber bullying. Social media is a high speed gossip train that can be hurtful and damaging for the individual being attacked as well as the person that created the post. Understanding how actions online can affect others offline could play a vital role in your child’s social media use. They should never post things that would embarrass others.
Start Monitoring Your Child’s Name and Mentions
You and your child should work together to set up monitoring tools. There are many great tools out there to use which include free services such as Google Alerts and Social Mentions. These two alert services will allow you to know when anything is published about your child or mentioned across social platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.
Create a Website Together
One of the best ways to manage an online reputation is by creating websites with your name in the domain, for example my website jaybuerck.com. This can be a fun project for both you and your child to do together. You can install a simple content management system like wordpress and start uploading content, pictures, and other appropriate information regarding your child. This helps put their best foot forward.
When it comes to setting technology ground rules for kids and teaching them to be aware of their online reputation, taking proactive steps is the best plan. Educating your child early on about important boundaries and positive steps to take will put them ahead of the curve. I hope these tips help impress upon your child the importance of being responsible and accountable for their actions- online activity included!