If you’re the parent of a tween or teen, you know how important smartphones have become to this generation. Like the newfound freedom of getting a driver’s license, getting a smartphone means fresh independence and more ways to connect with friends (and yes, possibly strangers).

Like driving, there are many benefits to having a smartphone, however, the consequences for misuse can be high. So, how can we coach our kids to use this powerful device safely and positively? Let’s take a cue from Driver’s Ed.

When it’s time for our kids to drive, they aren’t simply handed keys to a car after a quick lecture about the importance of seat belts and speed limits. Instead, we buckle up alongside them and start down the road together. And we don’t start on a freeway during rush-hour. We begin in the driveway, and then on back roads, and the progression continues as our kids show readiness.

Parents must do the same with social media, which is now one of the biggest drivers of a student’s social development.

When it comes to driving, parents and educators team up to empower the kids. And that’s exactly how it needs to be with social media. In our work with students, teachers, and parents, we created—with students and parents—a positive social media curriculum that empowers us to have these important conversations about social media and technology. We believe in huddling with—not helicoptering over—our kids when it comes to social media.

Here are five conversations you should have to keep kids safe on their smartphones:

 A child is ready for their own smartphone only after they’ve proven mature use of a family device. During this learning phase, parents should keep a close eye on their tech use, and talk often about who they are engaging with, what kind of content they are consuming, and what is off limits.

Just like with driver’s ed, we need to teach personal tech basics. Together, we can walk through their device, making sure the privacy settings are correct and that they understand how their device works and what is possible.

Sign a technology contract so that everyone is aware of what’s expected of them and why when it comes to their smartphones, tablets, or computers. (Check out our Family Standards Agreement or create your own).

Knowing when to shut off our devices is just as important as knowing when to use them.Talk about striking a balance and knowing when it’s time to use that device, and when it’s time to park it (during meals, when doing homework, during family gatherings, at least an hour before bedtime, etc).


Things move fast at 65 miles per hour, including tempers. It’s true on social media as well. Kids need to learn and role-play how they will handle the inevitable bumps in the road.

More freedom means more responsibility, whether driving a car or navigating social media. Buckle up alongside your child and provide small steps of independence over time, letting them know you’ll always be available to talk about any obstacle they face on the road of life.How will they respond when a friend says something mean about someone else on a group chat? What about getting asked for an inappropriate photo? How can they shut down cyberbullying?

These are real scenarios that they are likely to encounter, so coach them on how to handle these road hazards ahead of time.

Publicado por: Positive Parenting Solutions

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