As adults we can often know when we have received that phishing email or text message we know we should not open. We (hopefully) have the discipline to turn devices off and set time limits, while still making good use of all the technology that is available to us on a daily basis. We have learned to navigate technology, not as digital natives but as people who have learned technology as we have come in contact with it. Many of us were already older teens/adults when “screen time” became a phrase.
As parents, we must guide our children as they navigate the deep waters of technology. Technology is everywhere. (At one time, the loom was considered “technology”!) For the sake of this article, technology refers to anything with a screen, along with areas online that kids can access with those screens.
In using these resources, we shouldn’t come away thinking, “I need to lock my whole family in a bunker until my youngest is 18.” Instead, we should see these resources as a conversation starter. In your home, how will people interact with technology, social media, and the internet? We have all heard scary stories about technology’s impact on children. But now we have a chance to be proactive.
Remember, no parent can do everything. Instead, focus on the one thing that’s most important for your family. Imagine building a bridge your kids can safely cross to interact with technology, social media, and the internet. These resources are meant to help you come up with a workable plan.
A resource for elementary, middle, and high school students with info on everything from cyberbullying to social media. It has presentations, tips on starting conversations, and age-appropriate animated series. They also have guides for parents to download from “Being a Safe Adult” to “Tips for Tweens.”
The Social Institute
A guide for parents on how to talk with their children about social media. On the Social Institute you can also read all the available parents settings of social media all in one place. (This resource has to be activated by a school, and then parents can join via their school.)
This is not a website curated by Christians, but it asks helpful questions. In one article, they have this helpful rubric for helping your kids decide who to follow online:
When huddling with your students, have them ask themselves these questions when following people on social media:
- Does this person align with what I value?
- Is this person’s content relevant to me and what I am interested in?
- Is this person someone I want to be like?
If the answer is yes to all, then this is likely a good influencer to follow! However, students should also evaluate profiles with these questions:
- Does this person comment or post content that is hurtful to myself or others?
- Does this person make me feel bad about myself?
- Does this person influence me to act in a way that either others or myself would not be proud of?
If the answer to any of these is yes, then that is likely a person to avoid on social media.
A paid tool for controlling kids’ access to specific internet sites and social media platforms. It also lets you use your phone to control which apps your kids can have access to, and for how long.
Note that some phones (like iPhones) come with parental controls pre-installed. You can set these up before you give your child a phone. Limit their access by content and by time of day.
Online Safety Pledge
One family activity you can do is creating and signing an Online Safety Pledge. Below are several examples of safety pledges. These pledges help your kids understand what they may encounter in online games, social media or other social sites. You can also create a safety pledge that talks about how much you are online, remain seated in one spot as well as what to do when you are put in an uncomfortable situation. As an adult, make the pledge as well to set a good example of a digital citizen and in return your kids make a pledge to speak up if something happens on line.
Example of the adult online safety pledge.
Examples of a child online safety pledge example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4.