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Jun 13, 2017

Parents

Building Good Digital Habits

Technology plays a large part of your child’s life. Chances are, your child is using a computer or tablet as a part of classroom instruction, and many devices like televisions, phones, e-readers, or gaming consoles at home. With access to so many devices in their day-to-day life, it can be a struggle for your child to navigate the digital age on their own.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to help your child build good digital habits. The start to building good digital habits? Have a conversation with your child about their digital life. Conversations about technology and its role in your child’s day-to-day life can help build a strong foundation that will help to form your child’s technology habits as they grow up.

Three areas you can focus on to help build good digital habits:

Safety

Conversations about internet safety should begin early, at the same time that you talk about safety in a face-to-face context. Some important topics include never sharing passwords (except to parents), keeping personal information such as address and phone number private, and not to download things without permission. Common Sense Media outlines more important internet safety topics in this short video.

Respect

Respect is an important aspect of both offline and online life. As parents, we teach our children how to be respectful to others in-person, but those guidelines may not transfer to the digital world. You can transfer this knowledge to the digital world by talking with your child about how they would deal with common online confrontation. For example, how would your child deal with seeing other students post intentionally mean things about other students which they know is wrong, but would cause problems for them socially to intervene?

Balance

Finding a balance between time with technology and technology-free time is important! Like adults, children can find it difficult to put down a device. Parents are the role model for device behavior. A great way to help your child find a balance between their online and offline life is to create time when the whole family will be offline. This could mean no devices at the dinner table, turning off wifi access during sleeping hours, or having a “no screen day” in your household.

How do you make sure that the whole family comes to an agreement on how good digital habits will be built? A family media agreement is a great way for the whole family, not just the parents, to come to an agreement with how technology will be used in the home. The agreement helps to set clear expectations for positive, balanced, and safe online use.

We’ve created a Family Media Agreement, like the Responsible Use Agreement signed for children to access technology at school, to be used at home. It outlines what steps you and your child will take to ensure that good digital habits of safety, respect, and balance are being created. The key part of this agreement is that it’s centered around a discussion between you and your children and everyone in the family agrees to follow the expectations outlined, rather than a set of rules imposed by the adults that only the children have to follow.

While technology is a tough topic to talk about, it is a very large part of our lives. Learning smart habits about technology use now will help children as they grow up and self-monitor themselves. It’s never too early or too late to start the conversation about technology with your child.

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