Online Guidance for Children, Tweens and Teens

Social media, texting and online engagement should be fun and educational. We don’t want to take away the fun–but we want to ensure our kids are safe from predators, bullies, inappropriate picture viewing, privacy invasion, crazy people, and electronics overuse or addiction. Is this possible? Yes! You can achieve online guidance for your child.


I have driven friends and family to eat ice cream in the middle of the night because of my incessant chatter on the topic. I research media matters from the view of a pediatrician and mother who is persistently working to increase her knowledge on the subject. The following are three key points to take control of media in your home.

One word: proactive. If you wait for things to happen on the Internet and then call your child down, you are creating a major control issue between parent and child. You cannot expect your child to have good common sense on the Internet. You must educate her in advance. You should let her navigate and make decisions. We are teaching our children to maneuver in life.

State your expectations for social media, internet use and texting. You won’t always be present to monitor their online activities. Your children need clear expectations.

Set consequences for your child’s actions if expectations are not met. A good consequence is one that makes sense, such as removing internet access or gaming for a period of time. If rules are not followed, he temporarily loses access to online privileges.

Ahhhh… so, you are overwhelmed. What are your parental expectations? How do you “work with” your child to make a plan? The answer will vary according to family preferences and values. A good start is to print out the contract below and discuss it.

Kid’s Pledge (10 years and less):

 Tween/Teen Pledge (11 years and up):

SafeKids_Family_contract SafeKidsTeencontract

Let your child be part of the planning. Solicit ideas. Listen to your child’s suggestions, and add points if necessary. Tell your child that you are learning together as technology continues to evolve. Let her talk about what she does and does not agree with and why. Allow your child to be a part of your family’s pro-active “Internet Safety Plan.”

Social media and texting online should be fun and educational. But, what if it takes over your lives? Here's resources and discussion to guide and help.

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