Teaching your children to use technology wisely can help your children stay protected from those who would seek to harm them. It also helps them learn standards for safety and how they can avoid hurting others through things such as cyberbullying or online harassment. As a parent, you can be the model for how to use technology safely and appropriately. Pay attention to your own habits and modify them as needed.
Sister Joy D. Jones, General Primary President, taught: “Whatever the needs are for our individual families, let’s teach each family member to use technology wisely and positively from the start—to develop a moral mindset. Let’s educate children in constructive ways to use technology for good. We can teach them to evaluate by asking themselves, ‘Will using this serve a good purpose?’ Our choices in how we teach our families now will influence future generations” (“It Starts with Us” [address given at Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference, Mar. 10, 2018], mormonnewsroom.org).
An essential part of safety is making sure children have access to digital devices only when they are old enough to use them responsibly. When you feel your child can appropriately handle technology, set standards together that will help keep the family safe.
It is important for children to know that not everyone who is online is a “friend.” Regularly teach children how to use digital devices wisely.
Children should know that you are invested in helping them. Consider discussing the following when developing a safe technology plan with your children:
- How to create appropriate posts for social networking sites.
- How to handle cyberbullying or inappropriate texting.
- What to do when they see inappropriate behavior or images.
- What information or content is inappropriate to share online.
- Where it is appropriate and safe to use digital devices.
- Why parents have the responsibility to set safety standards and access digital devices.
Keep your focus on how to prevent future problems. The child may already feel worried and ashamed if they have seen or participated in inappropriate content or behavior, and your calm approach will help him or her feel confident enough to approach you in the future.
Consider some of the following standards for the family, and set guidelines together. Have a discussion with your children about:
- Limiting internet access.
- Limiting online contacts to family and close family friends.
- Establishing acceptable times and time limits for technology use.
- Setting a regular time each day or week when the family “unplugs” from digital devices.
- Establishing technology-free zones in certain areas of the home.
- Setting up a family recharging station where children plug in digital devices each night at bedtime.
- Blocking inappropriate or unsafe applications, many of which allow unfilterable content.
- Following each other on social media platforms.
Using Technology Filters
Keep in mind that settings and filters will not block all inappropriate content. However, there are many resources that can help.
- Safe-mode settings or safety apps. Add-on applications allow you to select safe content for your children, review how much time they spend on different activities, and restrict them from viewing objectionable content. You can also set search and streaming platforms to filter out inappropriate content.
- Internet content filters. Filters can prevent certain harmful material from reaching young children. Consider filtering software, hardware filters, and internet proxy filters.
Using Internal Filters
Help children understand that the most important and effective type of filter is inside their own minds and hearts. Asking these questions can be a good first step:
- Am I using technology in uplifting ways?
- Am I keeping my personal information safe from others?
- Am I building others up or tearing them down?
- Am I careful about what I share online?
With guidelines firmly in place and with the Holy Ghost as our guide, we can use digital media to expand our search for things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13).
Community and Church Resources
(Some of the resources listed below are not created, maintained, or controlled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While these materials are intended to serve as additional resources, the Church does not endorse any content that is not in keeping with its doctrines and teachings.)
- “Apply Key Messages from ‘Safeguards for Using Technology’ Booklet in Your Home,” news.ChurchofJesusChrist.org
- Safeguards for Using Technology (booklet, 2015)
- Educator Resources, iKeepSafe
- “Kids on Social Media and Gaming,” stopbullying.gov
- Student Safeline
- “The Spirit Can Help Me Choose Good Media,” addressingpornography.ChurchofJesusChrist.org
- “Internet Filtering (Family Safety),” Tech Wiki