Parents’ Guide to Technology
Set Healthy Guidelines
Technology is a Privilege
The parent signs the contract. Since technology is a privilege, children understand it can be taken away if boundaries are broken.
They Break It. They Buy It.
Children should take responsibility for any physical damage to the phone and for any plan overages.
Devices Will Be Checked for Inappropriate Content
Children understand that parents can and will check their devices. Random and frequent checks create healthy accountability.
Teach children when to silence or turn off the phone – movies, restaurants, dinner table, etc. The phone shouldn’t be used when interacting with someone in person. This is a direct reflection of how parents use their phones. Set a good example.
Set Clear Expectations
Be upfront and clear. If children have a better understanding of the expectations, it will become easier to enforce boundaries.
Just Because a Friend Has It, Doesn’t Mean Your Children Will
All apps can be set up for approval by mom or dad. This gives parents control over which apps are installed on the phone.
Their Presence Online Represents More Than Just Themselves
It’s important for children to realize that what they do online represents their family, friends, church, and school.
Never Use Technology in a Way That Is Hurtful
Anything that wouldn’t be said in person should never be said over text or on a social network. Fake accounts should never be used to make fun of someone. Photos, videos, or text that could be embarrassing to someone else should never be shared.
No Secret Passwords or Accounts
Parents maintain access to all accounts. This adds another level of accountability.
Everything is Public
Remind children that colleges and employers look at social media as a reference. Once it’s online, it’s online forever.
Time with Devices
Define acceptable and unacceptable times of use as well as technology time limits. Times can be adjusted with age and maturity as trust is built.
Use Technology to Encourage
Technology allows people to connect with others easier and more often. It’s important that children use technology to have a positive influence on others.
Types of Apps to Watch
Many apps include functionality that can have unintended consequences. These are the types of apps to watch out for when monitoring your family’s devices.
Hidden File Apps
These apps come in the form of fake calculators, games, flashlights, etc. They can be used to access hidden files, photos, videos, and even internet browsers. You can find these apps in the app store by searching for ‘hidden files‘ or ‘hidden browsers.’
Can contain inappropriate photos.
Apps with In-App Browsers
In-App browsers are the ability to browse the internet from inside an app. It’s like having Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari built inside an app like Twitter or Facebook. For example, someone could tweet themselves a link to google, then after clicking on the link have access to search google from within the Twitter app. There is no history or tracking on in-app browsing.
Games with Social Components
Examples: Words with Friends (or anything … with Friends), Clash of Clans
Some games can be used more for their chat and social components than gameplay.
Texting or Chat Apps
Examples: Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger
Allows users to text and chat using Wifi or data connection. If you only check the main messaging app on the phone, you may not see everyone your child is texting.
VOIP Apps (Voice Over IP)
Examples: Google Voice, Google Talk, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom
Allows users to set up (for free) separate phone numbers, texting, and voicemail. Uses data and Wifi instead of traditional voice plans. With these apps you can use an iPod or iPhone as an actual phone over Wifi.