2) Create a contract the whole family can live with. Download the Acceptable Use Policy to get the process started. It’s not just a contract your child needs to sign, but rather a working document that requires the whole family to discuss how you will LIVE WITH TECHNOLOGY.
3) Change the conversation from device specific to desired behaviors:
- Privacy: What is a shareable moment/event?
- Friends: What is the difference between someone you may share a common interest with on a game or blogging site, versus a true friend that you know and trust?
- Balance: There is a time, a place, and a tool for everything. Finding the right combination is important.
5) Charging Pads/Stations: Rather than constantly trying to take away the technology… Let the technology live on charging pads or in a designated charging area in the kitchen or laundry room. When the kids want or need it, all they have to do is ask. That way you can ask what they want or need it for, and for how long. This makes you more a part of their online world. Create Tech-Free spaces/events so that everyone has an opportunity to disconnect from the device and reconnect with the people around them. The dinner table, short car trips, and while in the midst of having a face-to-face conversation with you is a great place to start!
6) The Internet is a community: The largest community we will ever visit with more than 1 trillion places to go, and more that 2 billion people there. If you wouldn’t let your child walk out your front door and not ask them where they are going — why would you let them wander this vast community without at least asking where they are going? Not every place online is meant for your child, so make sure you talk about the net as a community, and decide where they can go and with whom they can communicate. For your little ones, try kidrex.org as your preferred search engine. It’s not perfect, but it can make the web a little bit smaller.
7) Test it/Try it/Change it: Just because you have been doing something the same way forever, doesn’t mean that you can’t change. If you are not happy with the behavior, let your child know, “we need to make a change because your behavior isn’t working for me, for right now…”
8) Self-Control…the App: It's tough for teens to exercise self-control when it comes to multitasking behavior — so try using Self-Control, Freedom, Forest or other distraction blocking software or app to help stop yourself from being interrupted by your own multi-tasking behavior.
9) ABC all tech!: Ask for it, Bring me along, Check first. Rather than learning about new apps after they have already been installed, set up restrictions (either verbally or within the settings of the device) to stop kids from downloading new apps (or creating accounts) before they Ask. This way they Bring you along so you can Check first, and decide if the app/account is right for your child.
10) Go where they go! If your child is into gaming, you should be too. If they love to Instagram, Tweet, Blog, or Youtube, you should understand how it works so you can decide on appropriate guidelines. Spend a little time with them doing what they do.
Lori Getz, M.A., is an educator, mother, and Internet safety expert. She has appeared on the “Dr. Phil Show,” “Today,” “HLN,” “Dr. Drew,” and several other local news and radio programs (including the Ryan Seacrest show on KIIS FM). She often lectures live, speaking to parents, teachers, and students across the country. Lori is the author of The Tech Savvy User's Guide to the Digital World, a workbook for tweens and teens about their digital lives, and has been published in several areas, including as an online expert for Kidsinthehouse.com. Lori was also featured in Rachel Simmons new edition of “Odd Girl Out.” Her insight comes from both her professional and personal life working with children, tweens, and teens.