When It’s Time for a Smartphone, That Means It’s Time for a Smart Talk

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Ryan just started the 5th grade. Crazy, I know! But that means when this year’s over…

Yep, he’ll be getting his own cell phone! Apparently that’s what we do around here when kids graduate elementary school. At least that’s what we did with Jason when he moved on to Middle School.

So since our little guy will be getting a smartphone before we know it, that means there’s a whole new world of scariness to worry about. We’ll have to start juggling things like cyber security with spending too much time on his mobile device.

We have some loose rules with Jason right now in terms of his smartphone, and he’s been really great about it. I’m sure Ryan will be too. Both boys are rules sticklers after all!

But even so, it’s always good to put a plan in motion before things get too far along. And thanks to a joint resource between LifeLock and the National PTA, I can do just that!

Smart Talk is a fabulous new free resource tool for families to help parents have very clear and direct conversations with their kids about using their smartphones and related tech.

You basically walk through a series of smartphone-related questions along with your son or daughter, discuss various rules and ultimately put together an official family agreement that you can either store on your computer or print out!

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Any site that welcomes me by saying my kid is awesome, is definitely off to a good start! I grabbed Ryan and we sat down to get started.

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In a straight-forward and easy-to-follow manner, The Smart Talk walks you through a series of questions related to how you expect your child to use their device and what rules you’re looking to set. What’s really great is that there are so many things you never even think about, so rather than scrambling to deal with any problems after they’ve happened, this agreement you set up beforehand can really spell it all out!

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You start off by first breaking down the areas that most concern you. Some people may only pick Safety & Privacy, others may go full force and cover them all. Ryan and I fell basically in the middle.

I know my boys and have been working with them over the years on various privacy and safety concerns when it comes to the Internet, so I don’t expect any issues transferring that to a smartphone.

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Through a series of check boxes, sliders and fill-in forms, Ryan and I walked through the various rules I want to set up for his Smartphone use. It was great to do this with him, so that he could understand not only what his limits are, but also why I put them in place. Kids are loads smarter than we give them credit for, so by explaining the why behind things, helps them understand why they should do it.

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When we were done, we printed out the full agreement and signed it.

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Now that we’ve had a Smart Talk, we have something to always refer back to, and Ryan has a good framework of rules to follow so that he can enjoy using his smartphone (or currently, his iTouch) without having to stop and think about whether or not he’s doing anything wrong. As long as he sticks to the agreement, he knows he’ll be using it correctly.

I think it’s pretty darn cool that Lifelock has helped put this interactive tool together to help parents work with their kids at curtailing (and protecting) their personal information online. Like it or not, our society is rapidly moving to a super digital age, so anything and everything we can do to protect our virtual and physical identities is a win in my mind. I can only imagine the kind of privacy concerns my kids will have when they’re older and have kids of their own!

Visit the Smart Talk site to check out the online safety resources and create your own personalized family contract to encourage healthy digital habits.

The Smart Talk

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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