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Cyber rites of passage can help set expectations for the social network

“Parents have a hard time setting expectations and holding the line on boundaries in the network because they feel the same peer pressure their children experience.” -- Kelly LeRossignol, Chief Operating Officer, KidsFirst in Roseville
Joanna Jullien

Kelly LeRossignol is the Chief Operating Officer at KidsFirst in Roseville, a non-profit dedicated to connecting families in crisis with local resources. She observes that the modern parent can have a difficult time resisting peer pressure – especially when it comes to setting boundaries for devices and apps.

“There is so much pressure for the kids to stay connected via texting and social media,” LeRossignol said. “Parents have a hard time setting expectations and holding the line on boundaries in the network because they feel the same peer pressure their children experience.”

LeRossignol observes that children in the second and third grade are provided iTouch and iPad devices that grant the kids access to texting apps and social media without parental permission.

“When parents issue kids a device with the intention of allowing them access to certain media, such as education apps, music and books, they do not realize that the internet connectivity makes all free social networking apps accessible,” she said.

Children are naturals at navigating the digital realm. They do not require parental guidance to understand how to use the technology. They do however require parental guidance to understand the wise use of these devices in order to preserve their personal security.

Cyber Rites of Passage

Cyber rites of passage are a helpful tool to set expectations with your children about age-appropriate access to apps and devices. Some examples listed below are excerpts from A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media:

  • User Level 1 – Tiny Tot (Two years and younger) Little to no screen time. Keep it simple and keep in mind that mostly the interface infants and toddlers require is human.
  • User Level 2 – Early Ranger (Three to five years old) Strict supervision for use of devices. Do not leave the child alone; do not grant password access. During this time, the child is learning cyber safe house rules.
  • User Level 3 – Ranger (Six to 10 years old) Issue the device like checking out a library book. General oversight. Always a responsible older user monitoring. No privacy with the device. Learning the responsible use of apps by following your house rules.
  • User Level 4 – Junior Explorer (11-15 years old) Limited time with unsupervised use. Understands that only apps on the “family approved app list” can be used. No privacy with the device. Demonstrates responsible use of apps according to your house rules.
  • User Level 5 – Explorer (16 years and older) Your teen appreciates that there is no privacy in the cyber realm, and there is no privacy with the device and apps from parents. Parents conduct random checks on texting and social media. Parents have all passwords. The teen is expected to bring to parent attention any questions or desires about new apps and what is happening on line.

Parenting Resources

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