My daughter started 2nd grade last week. It’s amazing how fast time has gone by. My daughter is 7 going on 14 – or that’s what it seems most days. She loves her Kindle, her iPad, and now she carries around an old smart phone of mine. I haven’t given her a cell plan; she asks quite frequently but 7 seems too young.
Did you know most kids get their first phone between the ages of 8-12? This fall she’ll be turning 8 and I won’t be surprised if she asks for a smart phone of her own. We’ve been limiting her internet usage here at home. We sat down and had a discussion about it and set it at 1 hour per day (which also included streaming Netflix). Most families have a oral agreement about technology usage, but only a small percentage of familes have written that agreement down.
My husband and I are the type of people who like to have a family mission statement, savings plan, and now a written technology agreement.
Have you written down your family technology agreement?
6 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Set limits on computer usage.
Limiting your children’s online time helps to keep them safe from cyber strangers and bullies. Small children should never access the computer without their parents sitting with them. For older children, an hour or two a day is ideal to let them get on, play games, or socialize with friends.
Know their passwords.
Having your child’s passwords for Facebook or other accounts ensures they aren’t being contacted by anyone they don’t know. Let them know this isn’t an invasion of their privacy, but it is simply to keep them safe from strangers. Just like they wouldn’t talk to someone unfamiliar on the street, they shouldn’t be talking to them online either!
Check their browser history.
Make sure your children aren’t going to any website they should not by checking the Internet history every so often. Discuss safe websites they are allowed to visit, and if they are checking out any not on the approved list, revoke their online privileges.
Keep electronic devices in sight.
Computers and tablets that can access the internet should only be used in family living areas. That way, you can keep an eye on your children while they are online. This also ensures they are following the time limits you have set for them. If they insist on having a device in their room, block the wifi from it so they aren’t able to get online.
Teach them online responsibility.
Just as you would warn about stranger danger, children may not realize they are being unsafe when using the internet. For social networks, advise them not to become friends or follow anyone they do not know. Accounts or pages should be kept private and only accessible to family members and friends.
Block unsafe and inappropriate websites.
To prevent your children from stumbling upon anything their eyes should not see, use website blocking software that keeps unsafe content from being displayed. This could happen if they accidentally clicked an ad on a safe site, so the extra layer of protection isn’t a bad idea!
The Smart Talk
All of these tips can be written up in a family technology plan using The Smart Talk website from LifeLock. Together with the National PTA, LifeLock is giving parents a way to make a hard and complex discussion easier. The Smart Talk is a digital tool is designed to empower families to make smarter, safer choices online and help build the next generation of digital citizens. Decide together on healthy limits and create a personalized, official family agreement. You can save it on your family computer and print and post your technology agreement at home.
Visit the Smart Talk site to check out the online safety resources and create your own 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.