Digital Citizenship: Establishing Expectations at Home

A Four-Pronged Approach to Supporting Your Child’s Technology Use

As a parent, you might be wondering what apps and games are age appropriate for your child. How you can help your child enjoy technology and media in a balanced and safe way? FCPS recommends a four-pronged approach for supporting children. This approach will help your child become a smart, safe and balanced user of technology.  Parents using the four-pronged approach will:

  • establish expectations by developing and enforcing media and device plans with their children
  • select and use age-appropriate media (games, apps, videos, books, etc.)
  • use parental controls to support your child
  • mediate your child’s technology use by using it with them 

Establish Expectations at Home

Families are urged to develop device and media use plans. Plans will take into account each child's age, health, personality, and developmental stage. The effects of technology and media use on children also depend on the:

  • content type and quality (age-appropriate, educational)
  • context of use (when, where, why, how and with whom)
  • degree to which its use supports critical thinking
  • degree to which it promotes creation over consumption
  • degree to which it is active versus passive

These factors are important to consider before deciding on expectations for each child. These resources will help parents establish expectations:

Get advice to common questions:

Select Age Appropriate Content

Be sure apps, games, and other media used are age appropriate. These sites provide information to help with decisions. They provide guidance and information only. What parents decide is right for their child may not match the recommendations.

Use Parental Controls

FCPS encourages parents to use parental controls and a gradual release of responsibility. This gives children time to learn safe, responsible and balanced use of technology. Parental controls can be decreased over time as your child:

  • grows in their maturity
  • gains the skills to navigate the online space safely
  • demonstrates balanced, respectful, and responsible use

Preparing students for unmonitored use is always a goal. As children get older, they may not always be under the care and supervision of an adult. 

FCPS recommends that parents:

  • explain the parental controls that are in place and why
  • explain what they expect of their child
  • explain what will happen if the rules are broken
  • be transparent, consistent, and predictable

FCPS also recommends that parents:

  • revisit and revise the expectations and controls regularly
  • gradually provide more options as their child demonstrates readiness

Learn More About Parental Controls

Use these websites to learn more about the parental controls offered for the products and services used by your family:

Mediate Your Child’s Technology Use

Using technology with your children provides opportunities to:

  • talk about content and help your children understand and interpret what they experience
  • share and discuss your own experiences
  • model and promote safe, respectful, and healthy practices
  • enjoy time together

Additional Information

Learn what social media and technology kids using the most outside of school: Pew Research Center - Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018

Get kids talking about their technology use

FCPS offers a free online course for students in grades 7 and up to take with their parents. Parents may find that some of the content is also useful for younger children. The course includes important information, activities, and conversation starters.