Parenting Suggestions Regarding Technology
Become involved in your child's cyberspace. Sit at the computer and let themteach you how they use the Internet:
• Ask them to take you places they frequently visit and show you what they do.
Three types of sites children commonly utilize are:
- Instant/Text Messaging
- Social Networking
- Video/Picture Posting
• Open up your own accounts where they have accounts. Have your child guide
you through the process.
• If your child is under 13, you do have the option to have these accounts deleted
since most of these services have an age and/or parental consent requirement.
• Have them share with you all their user account names and passwords. If this is
creating a trust issue, perhaps a good compromise is to have your child write
down all the user account names and passwords on a sheet of paper and place
this in a sealed envelope to only be opened by the parent in case of an
• Make certain they have never and will never share their passwords with anyone,
even a friend. Explain the risk of someone impersonating them and ruining their
• Have them show you what they have in their profiles/pages. How do they
describe themselves? Is it all accurate and appropriate? Does it show too much
detail about your child? Are they protecting and sustaining a positive reputation?
• Scrutinize their friend lists on these accounts. It is very important to recognize
the identity of each person. If they don't know the real name of an on-line friend,
then consider that person a stranger. Request they delete and block that person.
• Ask your child if they have ever been ridiculed, intimidated and/or humiliated on
the Internet (cyber bullied). Encourage them to come to you for support if they
are being bullied. Both of you should learn how to use the print screen option to
save evidence of the cyber bullying.
• Ask whether they have bullied anyone. It’s important for them to appreciate how
much emotional pain can be inflicted by unkind words or images, and that the
reach of the Internet makes it far more destructive. Use Ryan’s story to make the
• Also explain that this is a particularly difficult emotional period for many children
and what may seem to be harmless teasing, can be devastating to the person
• Share with them that the Internet is a public forum so anything can be shared
with other people without their knowledge or consent. They should be very
discreet in what they say and do on-line. They need to always be vigilant in
protecting their reputations. Things said and done on the internet can come back
to bite them many years later.
• Have a very pointed conversation about “sexting”, the risky practice of sending
sexually explicit photos and/or messages which can easily be forwarded on toothers and damage their reputation.
Establish clear and enforceable guidelines:
• Establish your own family policy for acceptable technology use. List what may or
may not be allowed including clear rules about time limits.
• Be upfront with your child, that this policy will be enforced and monitored. Try to
set a policy that respects your child’s privacy while also considering their age,
maturity level and inclination towards risky behavior.
• Purchase monitoring / time control software to help enforce your family's policy.
- Search “parental control software reviews” to find the latest products,
features, and reviews.
• Do not allow a computer to be in a child's bedroom. Keep it in a public area suchas the kitchen or den.
How much technology and access does your child really need?
• Does a middle school child or younger possess the maturity, judgment, and
social skills to use text messaging and social websites responsibly? Do their
• Does your child really need a cell phone, particularly with text messaging and/or
photo/video features? Are they mature enough to handle these options
• When does too much technology begin to hurt a child? You need to find the right
balance with other activities.
• Is it healthy for them to come home and plug right back into their social networkversus having some quiet, reflective and regenerative time with their family?
Please visit http://www.RyanPatrickHalligan.org for more information about these
topics and to also learn more about bullying and teen suicide prevention.