5 Tips on Setting Tech Rules for Your Family
Lifestyle From swiping left on Tinder to sending selfies on Snapchat, you can’t keep your young people offline in today’s world. Even so, technology can still offer a lot of benefits.
Devices can provide young people with tools to connect with family and friends, empowering them with new opportunities for learning and giving them the chance to practice social and technological skills they need to succeed in school and their chosen careers. But this increased freedom comes with it’s own share of risks. Here are five ways families can help teens stay safe in the digital world:
1. Limit screen time
Be assertive about when your child can use their phone or tablet and set a certain number of hours after school and over the weekend that devices can be used Establish an “online” and “offline” schedule to create balance between the real world and cyber world. Create a shared, public storage space where phones are charged and “holstered” when not in use.
2. Activate privacy settings
You can enable or install a variety of features, depending on how your child uses their device — such as location tracking, parental control for internet content and mobile usage monitoring apps. This will keep your child safe and protect their privacy. It is also important to talk to your child about smart usernames and passwords and what information is and isn’t appropriate to share online. Many parents will insist that all smartphone and app logins are known by the parent as well as the child. You may choose to require that all apps purchased require your permission so together you can assess the age-appropriateness of individual apps.
3. Address health precautions and other risks
Teach your child about the potential risks of overusing smartphones and other digital devices. For teens, it is critical to stress the importance of not texting and driving. Another real danger is walking and texting at the same time. It is too easy to lose track of your surroundings and get into an accident. You also should have a conversation with your children about not getting caught up in negative conversations that could lead to cyberbullying. Check out apps to see which ones allow adults to have unmonitored conversations with youth.
4. Monitor and model your technology use
Be aware of the personal example you set in teaching your child good digital habits, like not bringing your phone to the dinner table, never driving and texting or turning off all devices and storing them in a common area well before bedtime. Kids follow what adults do, and they benefit greatly when expectations and good digital habits are modeled for them. Choose to engage fully with your child without being distracted by the device in your own hand.
5. Make a contract with your teen
Find 20 minutes to invest in your family’s online well-being by creating a personalized family plan to guide technology use. Start a conversation with the entire family about online behaviors and agree on healthy limits. You can then create an official family contract to post in your home as a reminder.
To help keep teens safe online, build good digital habits and develop healthy lifestyles, it is important that families have open, ongoing conversations about devices and set ground rules for technology use.