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We know parents struggle with how to monitor their children’s use of technology. Limit screen time? Require shared passwords? Make some apps and games off-limits?

Cropped man and woman using electronic device free imageAnd it’s about so much more than rules—how parents handle technology can affect everything from family communication to personal trust to physical safety. It’s a lot to think about!

We often recommend parents post this Family Tech Checklist at home, and then start the discussion by asking their kids these five questions:

  1. “What technology/tools/apps do you know how to use?”
    The amount of technology—and access it provides to your kids—is astounding. And it changes every day. Do a regular check-in of your kids’ phones and gaming devices. Have them “show off ” what they can do.
  2. “Let’s check in on our security settings and passwords, okay?”
    Model safe behavior and reinforce the importance of privacy. Agree as a family to share all passwords in one place (excluding, of course, financial or other parent-only sites and tools.)
  3. “Have you seen anything online that’s made you uncomfortable or hurt your feelings?”
    This is an opportunity to listen (not to judge or yell). Cyber bullying is more common than you might think, and your kids should feel safe talking to you about it.
  4. “Can we talk? I’m uncomfortable with ______________ because _______________.”
    Rather than ban their use of Facebook, for example (which might result in secrecy or lying) explain why a certain photo or post is upsetting (use of foul language, inappropriate image, sharing of a location, etc.). Kids should know they will be held accountable for behavior online just as they are at school and home.
  5. “I need a break from my phone/web/email. Will you go___________with me?”
    Take a walk together, eat a meal, get outside and spend quality time together as a family. Model how helpful it can be to take a break from screen time.

(One app we DO recommend is our free Parent Resource Center app! You can download it on iTunes and Google Play HERE.)

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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