Have you had “the talk” with your child? Not the “birds and the bees” talk...the OTHER talk. In today’s world, there is another looming (and ongoing) conversation that needs to be had with our children about Internet safety and digital responsibility.
As you are making your list of resolutions for 2016, if you are a parent and have not had a discussion with your child about what to do and what NOT to do when they are online, set this task at the top of your resolution list.
We realize that for some, it’s not an easy conversation to start. As parents, we are raising the first all digital generation. While our children don’t remember what life was like before the Internet, Wi-Fi and hoverboards, we do.
Whether your child has received their first personal device with Internet access this holiday season or he or she already uses one, think about this fact:
They have access to the entire world in the palm of their hands.
Before the next time their fingers touch the keypads, here are some tips on how to get the conversation started and actions you can take to keep your kids safe online.
Set up and review the device together
The first step to talking about digital responsibility is setting up the device, learning how it works, and how to keep it safe and secure.
- Security and privacy settings - Walk through each of these areas in the device settings and determine what your child will have access to. Many devices have parental controls so you have the authority to set location services, access to install or purchase apps, or even restrict access to certain websites and age appropriate content.
- Call for help - Device manufacturers have 800 #’s and websites available to help you make the device safe. Many also have online tutorials and videos to simplify the experience.
- Recheck often - Set time aside each month to revisit settings, as they change on devices, apps and social networks frequently.
- TIPS - The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) has a great checklist.
Set boundaries and expectations
- Time limits - How often will your child be using the device and for how long? Setting time limits and usage time frames is a good place to start. On many devices, this can be set in the parental control area of the device settings. So if you want your child to only use their iPod Touch for up to 2 hours a day between the hours of 3-6pm, that can be done!
- Where they can go online? - Talk to your child about what websites they will be accessing and how they will be using them. Make that a part of your daily conversation. “What are your favorite websites to visit?" "What do you find to be interesting about that site?” These some great conversation starters.
- Who will they be connecting with? - Set your expectations on who they can connect with, and have your child revisit their “friend” list often. Even better, do this together.
- What apps will they be using? - Explore the mobile app marketplace with your child and determine whether apps he or she is interested in are age appropriate or not.
- Have access to all of their account usernames and passwords - If you get resistance from your child on this topic, explain that having access to the Internet is a privilege and it’s your job as a parent to keep them safe. Having access to their accounts is part of the deal (see contract reco below).
- Establish a contract - Having a digital media contract with your child and putting the rules in writing can be helpful. Here are a few samples for your family to use, categorized by age.
Talk to other parents and their teachers - Using your existing real-life social network can be helpful when raising a child in today’s world. Getting examples and guidance from our own peers is important. We recently published an article on how, as parents, we can strengthen our network to make digital parenting easier.
There are many great resources online for parents to stay updated about social media and technology. A few of our favorites are:
Empower your child with a plan
Just as in real life, your child may face situations online like bullying, contact from strangers, hurtful words, or event feeling excluded or left out. Have a game plan on how to handle the situation, such as reporting it to a parent/trusted adult, or blocking or deleting the offender. Agree together on what to do if a situation gets out of control. This article from US News has some great resources for teens to use if they are faced with cyberbullying.
Share real life examples
Use the current news and events as resources for examples of good and bad online behavior. Incorporate these situations into your conversations and discuss why they are good or how a bad situation can be handled.
Catch them doing something good
When you see your child doing something positive online, be sure to praise them for it!
Setting time aside to unplug is important for everyone, especially families. Here’s a recent DijiWise article with some great ideas for unplugged family time.
Monitor- Get the DijiWise App!
Would you allow your toddler to venture out alone at the local park? Of course not! We realized the importance of monitoring our children while they are on the “Internet playground," so we created the DijiWise app. Here’s our story.
The last thing kids want is to be lectured, so by kicking off the new year by keeping the conversations open and ongoing, you can stay connected with your children as they evolve to be responsible digital citizens.
We would love to hear from you about your experience raising your children in the digital age. Tweet to us @DijiWise.
Here are some DijiWise Moments parents have shared about using the DijiWise app. Click on the link to learn more and to share your DijiWise Moments with us!