Use these guidelines to create your family’s plan. Customize, modify, or edit the suggestions to meet your family’s needs, principles, values, and living situation.
- Create and enforce consistent rules for technology use: apps they can and can not use, who they can have as friends/followers/subscribers, who they can talk to, how much time can be spent using their devices, and where their devices are to be used.
- Model the same behaviors you want to see in your child
- Be intentional about talking with your child regarding healthy social media use. Create regular opportunities for a two-way dialogue. They are likely to encounter concerning situations on apps and social media platforms multiple times, therefore your conversation on the topic shouldn’t just be a one-time talk.
- Share real-life examples of unsafe online behavior and its consequences.
- Listen more than you speak. Let them express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences. If they feel they are genuinely being heard, they will feel more comfortable opening up to you.
- Role play scenarios with your child to allow them to practice dealing with potential social media situations.
- Eat a meal as a family consistently at least five days a week. Research has shown that regular family dinners without electronic distractions can reduce risky behavior by youth. If family meals are not possible, set aside other regular time weekly to engage in an activity together that lends itself to open conversation and active listening.
- Answer your child’s questions honestly at an age-appropriate level
Promote Healthy Behaviors and Self-Care
- Teach your child strategies to handle stress in a positive manner
- Encourage your child to engage in healthy behaviors such as music, writing, art, sports, exercise, faith, helping others, etc.
- Support them in the activities that they enjoy
- Read notMYkid’s blog entry on helping stressed teens
- Ensure that your child is getting sufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition, and time outdoors.
- Maintain healthy limits on electronic use or “screen time” by your child
- Research online. Get familiar with apps and social media sites popular with youth and the potential dangers.
- Be able to recognize the signs of unsafe online behavior.
- Learn current terminology, slang, and emojis. Know what they mean.
- Block access to unsafe apps, social media platforms, websites, and technology.
- Become your child’s friend, follower, or subscriber on their social media accounts.
- Set your child’s social media accounts to private or “friends only.”
- Do not allow your child to use their real name online. Encourage use of a pseudonym.
- Require devices be used in common areas of the house such as a kitchen or living room.
- Know your child’s online friends, followers, and subscribers. Ask questions about those who concern you.
- Be aware of what your child is saying, posting, and sharing online.
- Consider the use of parental control and monitoring software such as Bark. (Use code NOTMYKID for 30 days free)
- Document and keep records of any cyberbullying or sexual solicitation your child encounters on their devices..
Educate Your Community
- Educate your friends, family members, and other parents on strategies related to preventing unsafe social media use.
- Elicit the support of family, friends, coaches, religious leaders, community members, etc. to help prevent unsafe online behavior.
- Encourage members of your community to create their own prevention plans as well
- If you discover that your child has been behaving unsafely online, get connected with a behavioral health professional or agency for guidance and assistance. You can contact notMYkid by texting the word “QUESTION” to our assistance line at (602) 584-8474. You’ll be sent a form to fill out and a notMYkid staff member will contact you. You can also call notMYkid’s office at (602) 652-0163.
- Visit our resource and support page to find information on parent control and monitoring apps, and reviews of apps popular with youth.