Top 10 Tips for Parents

  1. Establish an atmosphere of trust, understanding, and mutual education in discussing family guidelines for internet, technology, and cell phone use.  Make technology a family affair: set rules as a family, and be involved in your child's use of it. Be a role model for your children.
  2. Know what your child is doing online: Consider keeping computers in family areas rather than bedrooms and check regularly to see what your child is doing online; consider spending time online with your child to learn about his or her online interests and activities; understand social networking sites and know whether your child is using them.
  3. Consider using Internet filtering software to block inappropriate material (but don’t count on it.) For example, consider products for managing access to the internet, and parental controls for filtering inappropriate content. Check the history of sites visited (but don’t count on it.)
  4. Teach your child to end any experience online when he or she feels uncomfortable (close the program), and discuss what  happened with an adult. 
  5. Teach your child to never give out personal information unless he or she has your permission and you know how and by whom the information will be used. Teach you child that they should never meet with a person that they have met online, even if in a public place, unless you are present. 
  6. Parents should have user names & passwords for young children's’ accounts and check them occasionally (email, texts, instant-messenger, social networking sites.)
  7. When your child uses social media apps ask your child to identify the people on his/her friends/followers lists.
  8. When you provide a cell phone for your child, be clear that YOU own the phone and that it is not a private tool of the child. Ask your child to identify text messaging recipients.
  9. Teach your child that nothing posted online is truly private, ever.
  10. Be aware of all the risks, but keep them in perspective. Aim for balance in the use of technology.

For further reading from the New York Times: How (and When) to Limit Kids' Tech Use

Guidelines for Children

  • Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to someone in person.
  • If you’re annoyed, hands off the keyboard.
  • Know that words can be easily misinterpreted without other communication cues.
  • Kindness counts and manners matter.
  • Passwords are like underwear: Don’t show it, don’t share it, and change it often.
  • Online friendships should support, not replace, in-person friendships.

Commonsense Media Guidelines

  1. Guard your privacy. What people know about you is up to you.
  2. Protect your reputation. Self-reflect before you self-reveal. What’s funny or edgy today could cost you tomorrow.
  3. Nothing is private online. Anything you say or do can be copied, pasted, and sent to gazillions of people without your permission.
  4. Assume everyone is watching. There’s a huge, vast audience out there. If someone is your friend’s friend, they can see everything.
  5. Apply the Golden Rule. If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else.
  6. Choose wisely. Not all content is appropriate. You know what we mean.
  7. Don't hide. Using anonymity to cloak your actions doesn’t turn you into a trustworthy, responsible person.
  8. Think about what you see. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true.
  9. Be smart, be safe. Not everyone is who they say they are.

Check out the tabs above for links to more resources.