February 13, 2024

Technology Use and Safety with Adopted Kids

 

It is essential to consider the unique needs and vulnerabilities of each child when making decisions about technology use. Some topics to think about are: when to introduce technology, what protections to put in place, and how to stay informed about media trends.

 

Introducing Technology

Remember that the decision to introduce technology should be based on your child’s development and maturity rather than a specific age. Introducing technology slowly is better than introducing it quickly and then having to take privileges away. If you have adopted an older child, take time to learn your child and their behaviors before giving them a cell phone. When introducing a cell phone to your child, it is important to establish rules about usage and discuss topics such as online safety and screen time boundaries.

Some families may consider starting their child with a phone that has more limited capabilities in order to learn phone etiquette and safety with more protections in place. There are many kid-friendly phones that limit internet/social media use, only allow calls and texts with approved contacts, and offer many parental controls and safeguards. While they all offer slightly different features, here are some of the most popular kid-friendly phones:

 

Establishing Guidelines and Protections

With any technology use (phones, tablets, computers, etc.), it is crucial to establish guidelines and set clear expectations for your child. Here are a few ways that you can protect your child’s devices and technology use:

  • Set rules around devices. Consider allowing device use only in common areas or having all family members leave their devices charging in a common area or in the parents’ room at night.
  • Utilize parental controls on devices.
  • Consider setting time limits for how much screen time is allowed per day in device settings.
  • Have open conversations about technology and internet safety with your child. Discuss how sharing private information about themselves could be a risk.
  • Model healthy technology use for your child. Consider limiting your own screen time and allowing your child to see that some cell phone “house rules” apply to everyone, and not just them.
  • Create an environment where your child feels comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.

 

Knowledge is Power

With technology and social media constantly changing, it is important to learn about internet trends so that you can know what websites and apps your child may be exploring. Websites like Common Sense Media and The eSafety Guide can give you an understanding of different apps and the risks they may impose.

Many schools provide computers for classwork. Find out what types of parental controls the schools have on their computers, especially if the school provides laptops or tablets that students take home with them.

For children who were adopted, the internet can be an easy way to connect with biological family or people from their past. This can be a wonderful way to remain in contact with birth family, when they are doing so with parental support and involvement. Some children may try to reach out to people from their past without parental knowledge, which could lead to secrecy and safety risks. Have open conversations with your child about the possibility of contact with birth family so that they can feel safe discussing this topic with you, and you can help to determine what is in your child’s best interest.

 

In the current age, technology is unavoidable, and kids will have ways to access it. Be thoughtful and proactive in your approach to technology with your child so that you can teach them how to use it in a healthy, constructive way.

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