As a parent, I have noticed that the important conversations are the ones that end up being the most awkward. It begins even before the age of five with the “Stranger Danger” warnings, and the conversations seems to get more difficult as our children age. I would like to think that I’ve raised a child who is independent, level-headed and smart – she’s turning 18 soon, and she seems to have a pretty good head on her shoulders. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can abstain from these conversations, confident in the knowledge our children are invincible…that’s just not very realistic! In this new digital age, we face conversations that our parents didn’t – there weren’t any smart phones, texting, picture messaging and the like when I was a kid! Back then, it was don’t get into cars with strangers and don’t take candy from strangers…My, how times have changed! Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in our lives, with the majority of children receiving their first smart phone between the ages of 8 and 12. Angeline was 8 when she got her first cell phone for safety reasons while visiting her biological father across the state), and I remember what a big deal it was at the time to take that step with my child – and it wasn’t even a smart phone back then!
LifeLock knows that being a parent is a balancing act, especially when it comes to managing kids and their mobile devices. Together with the National PTA, LifeLock is giving parents a way to make a hard and complex discussion easier. The Smart Talk digital tool is a new, free resource for families that help parents have clear conversations with their children about using technology and agree on ground rules together.
The Smart Talk begins by sitting down with your child and the website. First, you set a few ground rules by determining what’s important to your family.
You can choose from topics such as:
- Safety & Privacy: When and where devices can be used
- Screen Time” How to responsibly interact with others online
- Social Media: What is allowed on devices
- Apps & Downloads: How to communicate with others
- Texting & Calling: Why good online behavior is important
- Reputation & Respect: How to respectfully share pics and videos
- Online Videos & Cameras
Once you’ve selected your topics, it’s just a matter of hammering out the fine print. Going over topics such as password protections, privacy topics, amount of screen time, when phones are and aren’t allowed, etc. As parents, you have the ability to make this conversation and your guidelines as specific or as general as you like.
After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be stored on the computer or printed and posted at home. While 79 percent of families have technology agreements with their children, only 6 percent of those are written. I love the idea of actually writing this all down – then there is no room for your children to say, “I didn’t know!” later on….As a parent, I like having this agreement in writing with clearly stated rules to prevent “misunderstanding” later. We all know how teenagers are, right?
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.