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 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.
- Select and use age-appropriate media (games, apps, videos, books, and other media types).
- Use parental controls to set limits.
- Support 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 setting expectations for each child. These resources will help parents set expectations:
- Device Contracts and Media Agreements from Common Sense Media (translations available)
- Family Media Plan from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- The Smart Talk from Lifelock
Get advice to common questions:
- Ask the Mediatrician from the Center on Media and Child Health
- Parent Concerns from Common Sense Media
Select Age Appropriate Content
Be sure apps, games, and other media are age-appropriate. FCPS provides support for choosing digital apps, games, and services wisely.
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
FCPS content filters are applied to all FCPS devices. Parents and families who would like to limit access to individual websites at home should consult with their internet service providers to learn about content filter features on their home/personal networks.
The websites below can be used to learn more about the parental controls offered by the products and services used by your family:
- Cox Communications Parental Controls
- Verizon Smart FamilyTM
- Verizon Home Router Parental Controls
- Amazon Kids+
- Apple Families
- Google's Family Link - FCPS G Suite accounts can be added to Family Link, however, FCPS cannot provide support for Family Link. For more information, go to the Google Support Site.
- Microsoft Family Group (Windows 10, Xbox One devices, and Android devices running Microsoft Launcher)
- Gaming Systems Parental Controls
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.
Learn what social media and technology kids use 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 ideas for talking about technology use.