Trying to navigate through technology can be difficult, especially with children. Kids are spending more time using various devices and on the internet. As parents, we need to help teach our kids how to stay safe and develop healthy digital habits. What exactly is allowed has been more of a struggle in our household lately. Our oldest son, Lucian turned 9 last month. He has lost screen privileges a few times for various mistakes. And while it might not have been fun for him, each one was an opportunity to go over what and was not allowed when he had his screen time.
When I heard that about The Smart Talk, a site created by LifeLock and National PTA , I knew it would be a great interactive resource for our family. This free website helps parents have clear conversations with their children about using technology and agree on ground rules together. And while we had talked about some rules already, I felt that there were areas we still needed to discuss to clear up any misconceptions.
Our biggest struggles with Lucian has been from videos on You Tube. While it always starts out innocently enough, sometimes it can be hard for him to judge what is and is not age appropriate. Through our video history we saw he had watched some videos we didn’t feel comfortable with, including some with poor language and subject matter which may be hard for him to know what was real and what was fake, such as ghost hauntings. We removed all internet access from his Kindle and created a rule that You Tube could only be watched with adult supervision. However, we continue to run into issues with technology rules. So I sat him down to have the smart talk this week.
The website makes it the talk interactive for both the parent and child. I loved how I could customize it to fit our situation. Since Lucian doesn’t yet have a phone or social media account, going over texting, calling and social media wasn’t necessary for us.
We walked through the options together, talking about what was and wasn’t allowed as we went along.
One of my favorite features was the ability to customize it with an option that was not there. For example, I was able to list the bathroom as a designated device-free zone since believe it or not, we’ve had issues with that in the past.
I did find a few of the sections a bit confusing for our situation, but I was able to adapt it to work for us. I had checked off apps and downloads, but they pertained to his Kindle Fire and not to a phone, so some of sections didn’t apply. I also wished that when designating time they are allowed to use devices, we could select multiple time ranges. The contract had a definite start and stop time, when in our house, the boys get some screen time in the morning and some at night. This wasn’t a really big deal for us however, as that is one area where my son is very clear about what is allowed.
I was also able to chat with him about some things we’d never really talked about before such as what makes a good password. I also was able to reiterate others like what details he shouldn’t share about himself online. I was surprised how seriously my son took this talk. He asked some great questions and by the end, I know he felt like he better understood what was expected of him when he is using technology.
After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be stored on the computer or printed and posted at home. It certainly makes the agreement feel more official, especially for my son.
Be sure to visit the Smart Talk site to check out the online safety resources and create your own personalized family contract to encourage healthy digital habits! You’ll be glad you took the time to have this discussion.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.