This post is very timely for my family. When I first signed up to share about this resource, I didn’t even realize how much I needed it. This is the first school year where most of Bug’s schoolwork is online, and I was concerned…. but boy, I had no idea how much I really needed to worry.
Bug is a very responsible child. He’s typically very thoughtful and honest. But, he’s no different than most nine-year-olds. This is also the first year where three days a week, I am not here to monitor his schoolwork and behavior. He has a wonderful sitter, but she is busy with the other three kids too, and I mistakenly thought Bug was mature enough to be smart with the computer and other smart devices.
The school year started without much of a hitch, but a month in, I discovered Bug was making bad choices online and with his devices. He was wasting time with games and apps instead of doing his schoolwork. He was going to websites he wasn’t supposed to visit, and he was being disrespectful and dishonest when I approached him about his actions.
I didn’t know that these days, the majority of kids recieve their first smart phone between the ages of 8-12. I have no itention to get Bug a smart phone any time soon, but even without a phone, Bug has access to messaging and apps with other devices like the computer, the iPad and the Kindle. Keeping him off these devices isn’t an option. His homework is online. His class discussions happen online. So what can I do to keep him safe while he is online, and how can I make sure we are on the same page about the rules?
Creating a technology agreement with your kids is important- and having it down in writing is evern better. LifeLock, Inc., and National PTA® have launched a new, free resource for families that helps parents have clear conversations with their children about using technology and agree on ground rules together. Called The Smart Talk, this digital tool is designed to empower families to make smarter, safer choices online and help build the next generation of digital citizens.
Using Smart Talk was really easy. Bug and I sat down together, and the website walked us through the conversation. I was able to choose what elements I wanted to include in our agreement (safety, privacy, respect and ground rules for apps and screen time). Bug took the conversation seriously because it wasn’t just me clammoring for something to say- it was all clearly spelled out and interactive. As we worked through the website, we had a clear conversation about what he was doing online, and what my expectations were. Step by step, we established rules together about everything from what times of day he can be using the computer and the Kindle, and why he can’t purchase Apps, and what he needed to do if he ever felt uncomfortable online.
It wasn’t all about Bug either- it also held me accountable. One of the questions had me agree to not overreact if Bug ever does come to me with an issue. I like to think that I wouldn’t, but being able to sit down and tell him that honesty is the most important element, and that I want to be able to help him if he needed help, and that he could come to me about ANYTHING… and then taking it a step farther to put it into writing and sign it like an official contract really felt like a step in the right direction for both of us.
All the rules are clearly laid out, as well as the concequences for when things go wrong (for example, our contract states that if Bug breaks the Kindle, Bug is responsible for replacing it- or it will not get replaced at all). I’m more than a little impressed with this free resource, and I hope you all check it out!
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.