Technology can be helpful and a place for your child to explore their interests. But, it can also come with risks such as:
- inappropriate content
- access to private information
- online luring (someone tries to connect with a child for sexual contact)
Here you’ll find ways to decrease the risk, and help your child learn to handle online content that may not be appropriate or safe for them.
Tips for supporting your child’s safe and appropriate use of technology:
- Explore technology together. Remind your child that you want to know about their life, both online and off. For example, when your child is online, sit down together and explore the program or app they are interested in using. Let them take the lead in talking about the game and why they like it. Be curious and show real interest. Use these moments to start a conversation about responsible, safe, respectful technology use.
- Make sure content is age-appropriate. It’s easier to decide if the technology is appropriate when you’re aware or familiar with what they want to use. For example, with videogames, is the game appropriate for the age of your child? Are there ads in the game that can send your child to an inappropriate site? Check out CommonSenseMedia’s game review resource for parents and caregivers.
- Get to know the popular social media sites and how technology works. One of the best ways to help keep your child safe is to learn the technology yourself. There are many resources for parents and caregivers that can help you understand how children and youth are using social media and decrease negative experiences. For example, Parent Guides to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok.
- Change privacy settings to lower the risk of sharing details online. You can modify privacy settings for different social media accounts like Facebook or for gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. Popular consoles offer family management and parental controls. For example, see if a video game has features that can be turned off in the game for your child’s safety (chat, filters, graphic content?).
- Use sites that don’t accept content that is inappropriate for kids, for example:
After you set up these sites on your family and home devices, sit together and teach your child how to search for information safely. Here are some tips:
- Teach your child about online safety. Explain why online privacy is important and how to keep their personal details off the internet. Also, remind them to always think twice before posting anything online because once it’s been posted on the internet, it’s there forever.
- Talk about risks and negative experiences. Start a discussion about how to respond if they discover something that is inappropriate online. Suggest they walk away from the device they are using and tell an adult right away. Let them know if they have a negative experience they can come to you for help. For example, if they see or are the focus of mean or inappropriate messages on social media, you can help brainstorm how to respond. Use examples that you might have experienced and how you handled it.
- Make a plan on how to handle technology use outside of your home. Technology use and guidelines are often different for each family. Talk as a family and agree on how your child can deal with situations they may run into when hanging out with friends. Are they being asked to play a video game that they don’t feel comfortable with? Are they asked to ‘like’ or share a social media post that is negative or mean about someone? Role play a few situations so your child can find out what they are comfortable saying when these moments occur.
- Notice and encourage healthy use of technology. For example, recognize a positive social media moment and experience when it happens: “I think that’s a really great social post because…”
- Keep an eye out for bullying. Many children will have online interactions with friends and peers that are pleasant. But, bullying —both online and off—is a reality among children and youth. Keep an eye out for
signs that your child may be a victim of bullying, and educate yourself about bullying in school.