Like it or not, we live in a world that gets more technology-based every day. While most of us moms didn’t even have a computer until we were teenagers and our first cell phones were bigger than a loaf of bread, our kids are growing up in a society full of smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Their lives are being broadcast on social media from day one, and even much of their homework is assigned and completed digitally. When they need to do research, they head to Google instead of being sent to the now-extinct card catalog like we were. It starts so early too; I’m amazed by how even very young children are already proficient at swiping touch screens and playing with basic educational apps on their parents’ tablets.
With all the changes technology brings to the table, it’s important that we as families talk about online safety and set age appropriate limits for what our kids are doing on their devices. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to know where to start. LifeLock, Inc., and National PTA® have launched a new, free resource called The Smart Talk to help parents have clear conversations with their children about technology and agree on ground rules together. This digital tool is designed to empower families to make smarter, safer choices online and help build the next generation of digital citizens.
The Smart Talk provides an interactive experience that guides kids and parents through a series of questions and conversations about topics like safety and privacy, screen time, social media, apps and downloads, texting and calling, reputation and respect, and online videos and cameras. After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be stored on the computer or printed and posted at home.
The agreement is totally customized for the needs of your family; for example, since Little Crafter doesn’t have a phone, we didn’t need to discuss texting and calling rules yet. We also didn’t need to worry about social media or online videos and cameras since he doesn’t have any of his own social accounts. We did, however, want to discuss protecting private information, ground rules for when and where he can use his tablet, and what things he’s allowed to do on it.
For each section you choose to add to your agreement, there are a series of questions and discussion points. As we discussed “Screen Time,” we were able to set a limit of time per day that LC can be on his device, decide who keeps track of the time, and select which times and places are device-free zones.
After you and your child have gone through all the questions, you can save and print your family’s contract to use as a reference. Personally, I found the site to be incredibly helpful and I appreciated that it was written in kid-friendly language that was approachable and easy to understand even for my seven year old. The Smart Talk provides a great way to talk about these important issues and make sure that we’re addressing all the important points related to LC’s online safety.
What about you? Do you and your family have a clear, written agreement about the limits for technology and your children’s online presence? Visit the Smart Talk site to check out the online safety resources and create your own free personalized family contract to encourage healthy digital habits.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.