For years, my children dabbled with online activity with a lot of parental control. They only had access to the internet through one computer in the kitchen and my husband’s tablet. We kept a close eye on what they were doing and had conversations about cyber safety. After a few years, we allowed them to have their own tablets, but kept close tabs on anything they downloaded.
Fast forward a few more years and the internet has taken over nearly every part of their world. They each have school computers that come home each day. Most of their homework is on the computer. Even if they have paper homework, they still need to access the internet to complete the assignments.
Having the Cyber Safety Talk With Our Kids
My husband and I thought this year was a good time to sit down and review our family rules about online safety and responsibility. I was excited to find out about The Smart Talk created by the National PTA and LifeLock.
The Smart Talk is a free, online tool to help families set limits and ground rules about how they use technology. It is also meant to encourage families to have an open conversation about being safe and responsible online.
Families participate in an interactive experience walking through a guided conversation about things like:
- online safety
- screen time
- apps and dowloads
- texting and calling
- social media
- respectful online behavior
I love the idea of this program. My son participates in an online Minecraft group and my daughter has two social media accounts (monitored by me). It’s a perfect time to review these issues through this guided conversation.
My son, in typical teenage boy fashion, said “What do we need this for?” with a bit of an eye roll. As we walked through the contract, he gained a better understanding of the reasons behind the conversation and agreement.
We wish we had something like The Smart Talk years ago. Our kids may be the last ones in the neighborhood to get smart phones, but now they have a better understanding as to why. They have seen other kids be teased or bullied on popular social media apps. They know that we are trying to keep them away from that nonsense. There is enough they have to deal with as teenagers.
After The Smart Talk, I feel like we are all more informed about the benefits and risks of online activity. The Smart Talk can be revisited to keep the conversation going and evolving as kids age and technology changes. I’m sure there will be new things to chat about before we know it.
We printed out our Smart Talk contracts to hold us all accountable to the rules we’ve put in place. Anytime there is an issue or concern, we can pull out the contract and review the rules.
Kids are online more and more these days. No matter your child’s age, it’s a great time to talk to them about cyber safety and technology. Start by having The Smart Talk with your child and use it to set up smart online rules in your household.
What concerns do you have about online safety for your children?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.