Good news for parents whose kids are ready for a digital first step such as getting a phone or joining social media. A free, simple tool can help make the transition smoother.
Typically, it’s painful to make family ground rules around technology. You scrounge around the Internet for decent agreements which you cut and paste into something that might make you seem more like a dictator than the loving instructor you’ve always been.
But with The Smart Talk—developed by the National PTA—you can sit down with your child and together make a custom agreement to fit your child’s and your family’s needs. Topics covered are Safety and Privacy; Screen Time; Social Media; Apps and Downloads; Texting and Calling; Reputation and Respect; and Online Videos and Cameras. A beautifully-designed web form walks you through tricky areas such as:
- When to use devices at home and school.
- What to share on social media and whom to follow and be followed by.
- Judging if it’s OK to forward a text.
- How to handle a bully.
- Who will pay for repairs.
Parents get some of their own questions, like this one:
- Do you agree not to overreact if [your child] needs to discuss something important with you?
If you don’t feel knowledgeable about every topic, don’t worry. The Smart Talk links you with information and advice from the experts at Common Sense Media. You can also use this helpful PTA quick guide.
When you and your child have checked the boxes and filled in the blanks, your own unique Smart Talk is ready to print. Your child’s privacy or security won’t be compromised because the agreement is not savable except on your own device.
Here’s a 3-minute demo of The Smart Talk by the PTA’s Erin Thwaites at the Family Online Safety Institute annual conference:
The Smart Talk is designed to teach good digital citizenship and not life balance per se, but it does cover “device-free zones” that promote good sleep habits – a key to your child’s becoming a contributing, durable human.
By the way, if you’re still on the fence about whether your child is ready to dive into the digital world with his or her own smartphone or other Internet-ready device, here are some questions to ask yourself. You might also consider the tablet made just for kids.
Want more inspiration for raising active, engaged kids? Read the 15-minute Durable Human Manifesto. Now also available as an Audiobook, complete with music and the sounds of happy kids at play! Coming soon: my next book, How to Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age through the Power of Self-Design. To know when it’s published and about other Durable Human developments, please let me know here!