When I was a kid, there was no social media. As a 15-year old in 1991, I got my first brick-sized ‘Zack Morris’ cell phone – which was for ‘emergencies’ only. There was no texting – its only real function was to call landlines. It came with a carrying case and an antenna long enough that, whenever I used it, it looked like I was calling in an airstrike.
Gas was about $1.12 per gallon, Anthony Hopkins creeped us out with his fava beans in Silence of the Lambs and Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Van Halen ruled the world of music. That same year, the internet made its debut with the first website being published in early August.
From this point on, the flood gates were open. Texting only really became a thing when I was in college in the latter part of the 90’s. We used the multi-tap system on the SMS. NOTE: Millennials might have to look that up.
Out of nowhere, we began seeing an incredible boom in technology. Whether it was video games, the Apple II, Tivo or search engines like Google. It was just the beginning.
We’re now well beyond the days of Friendster and MySpace and the tech landscape has now fully wrapped its arms around our daily lives. Almost EVERYTHING we do is somehow connected to social media or the internet.
My folks didn’t have these worries. The only time I ever sat down with my parents for a ‘meeting’ was to talk about the birds and the bees – which lasted about 36 seconds before I told them that everything I needed to know, I learned on the school bus.
Today, it’s different. Now, I’m actually a parent. As if that weren’t difficult enough, now I’ve got to navigate conversations with my kids about online etiquette, the damage of excessive screen-time and predators who lurk on the web, looking for an opportunity to steal information and identities, amongst other much more nefarious things.
With four kids under 9, and three of them already extremely proficient with all forms of technology, it was time for my wife and I to start REALLY talking about boundaries.
We’ve taken the opportunity to partner with Google Kids & Families this holiday season to encourage conversations about how to be safer online and building positive relationships with technology.
With that in mind, we’d like to encourage you to do the try out the following process that might help guide you along the way.
- Set up Family Link on Android mobile devices(s) HERE.
- Guide your child to good content – you can view their activity, manage their apps and view teacher-recommended apps that you add directly to their devices.
- Keep an eye on screen-time – set time limits and lock their device when it’s time to have dinner, do homework or just spend time together. You can also remotely lock their device if it’s time to take a break.
- See where they are – locate them, use Family Link to figure out where there are, so long as they’re using an Android device.
- Have your kids play Be Internet Awesome’s Interland Game HERE.
- Establish family screen time rules…
Here are the family screen time rules my wife and I came up with…
DAD OR ALIVE HOUSEHOLD RULES FOR DEVICE USAGE:
- The use of electronics in our home is monitored. It is a Privilege, not a Right.
- You may not use your real identifying information (name, address, email nor phone numbers).
- You may not interact with anyone whom you don’t personally know from school or the neighborhood. “Friends” must be in your age group.
- Chat modes must be turned off when possible.
- Apps may only be downloaded by Mom & Dad.
- Devices must be turned off during dinner.
- Your morning chores must be done before you can use your devices.
- Mom & Dad will set your password.
I encourage you to join the conversation – what are we missing? What rules does your family have when it comes to online freedoms?
Our hope is that these simple steps encourage you and your family to begin a conversation – which hopefully leads to a safe and FUN holiday and new year online – for YOU and your KIDS.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Google Kids & Families, however the rules will be happily enforced by us! For more information on Family Link, click HERE and if you’d like to introduce your kids to Be Internet Awesome, check it out HERE.
Mike (The Neu Dad) says
This is a great post. We only have the one kid, so the rules are pretty clear and (more importantly) easy to enforce. If there were three other crazy little characters it would get tricky!! Balance is hard to strike, but I think your approach is awesome!