National PTA has announced a new, free resource for families that helps parents have clear conversations with their children about using technology and agree on ground rules together. Developed in conjunction with LifeLock called The Smart Talk, the digital tool is designed to empower families to make smarter, safer choices online and help build the next generation of digital citizens.

“Being a parent is a balancing act, especially when it comes to managing kids and their devices,” said Hilary Schneider, president of LifeLock. “Together with National PTA, we are giving parents a way to make a hard and complex discussion easier.”

The announcement is part of a two-year collaboration between LifeLock, a leader in proactive identity theft protection, and National PTA, the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy association, that’s aimed to encourage families to have an open, ongoing conversation about making positive, safe decisions online. According to a recent survey by LifeLock, technology is playing an ever-increasing role in our lives, with the majority of children receiving their first smart phone between the ages of 8 and 12. While 79% of families have technology agreements with their children, only 6% of those are written.

The Smart Talk provides an interactive experience that guides kids and parents through a series of questions and conversations about topics such as safety and privacy, screen time, social media, apps and downloads, texting and calling, reputation and respect, and online videos and cameras. After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be stored on the computer or printed and posted at home.

“Technology has opened up a world of opportunities in every aspect of life and is essential for the development of skills children need to thrive. As parents, we want our children to learn and have fun through technology, and at the same time, stay safe and develop healthy lifestyles,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “The Smart Talk gives families a roadmap to have open conversations and establish rules to safely use technology and be responsible citizens in the digital world.”

Parents frequently ask what the right age is to give their child a smartphone or other device. Common Sense Media recommends using the following set of discussion questions to determine if children are ready for the responsibility of having a device.

  • Does your child show a sense of responsibility, such as letting you know when they leave the house? Do they show up when they say they will?
  • Does your child tend to lose things, such as backpacks or homework folders?
  • Does your child need to be able to contact you at any time for safety reasons?
  • Would having easy access to friends benefit your child for social reasons?
  • Do you think your child will use cell phones responsibly—for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  • Can your child adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Will your child use text, photo and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others?

For parents looking to begin the conversation today, tips and more information on device and Internet accountability are available now on The Smart Talk website. More conversation can also be found on The Smart Talk Facebook page.

The Smart Talk Videos

Additional Resources from Common Sense Media