Introducing New Technology Devices to Your Children

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
December 14, 2020

The approaching holidays often mean introducing new devices into our homes and into our children’s hands. As devices get more sophisticated, what should parents be thinking about before giving their children these new products?  

To start, be sure to learn about the apps, games, or services first so you can prepare your children to use them safely, responsibly, and ethically. Knowing the content children will encounter and the contact they will have with others empowers parents to set their children up for success. FCPS offers resources to support parents in learning about products and setting expectations so that families can enjoy their new devices together.  

Data privacy is also something parents should be thinking about. With so many new products, such as smart devices and voice assistants, data privacy should be a topic of conversation with your children. Common Sense has resources and tools to help parents learn more about digital privacy.  

It’s never too late to review services you and your children already use. Google and Microsoft both offer privacy checks and include directions for managing data and security. Do you or your children use social media? Take some time over the holidays to review your settings along with those for any sites that are connected to your social media accounts.

Another important conversation to have with children is about passwords and network security. Remind children that they should never share their passwords with their friends or anyone outside their family. It is also important to use different passwords for each account. Reusing a password from the past or from a different account is an easy entry point for hackers, so keeping your passwords fresh and complex is one way to protect your children's information and safety. It may be helpful to explain that just as you protect your physical space by locking doors and windows, it is important to keep accounts and your home network safe with strong, private passwords. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers a consumer page with tips for online security, including how to secure your wireless network.

Lastly, talk with your children about what they can do to help. Looking for the “s” in https internet addresses is a quick check for website security (and a great way to reinforce letter recognition!). Remind them to be extra cautious clicking links within sites and games, and they should always get permission from a parent or trusted adult before installing anything.

These tips are just a start. The most important way to support children with their new devices is to enjoy using it with them so you can capitalize on those teachable moments.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis, text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor, call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or call 911.

The Healthy Minds Blog shares information related to youth mental health and wellness for an audience of parent, educators and community-based providers. Articles include tips and strategies for increasing wellness and resiliency, as well as fostering success at home, at school and in the community.

The Healthy Minds Blog is a collaborative project between Fairfax County Public Schools and the Prevention Unit of the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. It is part of the Healthy Minds Fairfax (see below) initiative, designed to support emotional wellness in youth and families.

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