For many of us, the digital age has brought a new dimension to the parent-child dynamic.

Telstra research has found that two-thirds of us now use our smartphones to stay in regular contact with our kids. More than 58 percent of parents believe smartphones have made it easier to connect with their family than when they were a child. And 18 percent say our kids have even told us something via text that they felt they couldn’t tell us face-to-face.

And while technology is giving us even more ways to come together as a family, it’s only natural for us, as parents, to think about how we can help our tweens and teens confidently navigate all of the complexities that come with this limitless connection.

The vast majority of us would acknowledge that digital literacy is a huge part of our kids’ lives. However, nine in 10 (87%) of parents would like more information about how to introduce a smartphone into their kids pocket safely. So, here are a few pointers to get you started.

Do some eLearning

If your house is anything like mine, it’ll be the kids showing you how to get a handle on technology. But it’s important to do some research beyond your kids’ teachings. Familiarise yourself with your child’s favourite sites or apps and take the time to understand how they work. This not only means you can more confidently chat to them about their online activities, but it also give you some insight into how they might be interacting with other people. Does it let them connect with strangers? Is it a photo sharing platform? Does it publicise personal information? Knowing these details will help you to work together to put measures in place that keep your child safe and thriving online. Learn more.

Take the parental controls

The internet is able to answer almost every question we could possibly come up with, which means it’s also home to a lot of content that might not be appropriate for your child to read or watch. Look into the parental controls you can use to filter the things you’d rather they weren’t privy to and set ground rules about the kind of sites that are and aren’t acceptable to visit. Learn more.

Encourage self-awareness

Kids have grown up in a world where communication happens instantaneously and around the clock, which means they might not think all too hard about the long-term impact of their online activity. The fact is though, employers, future partners, grandparents – anyone – can easily do a quick internet search to have a look at what your child’s been saying online. And they can go right back to your child’s debut post. Make sure kids sense check all of their online behaviour by asking themselves ‘would I want Mum or Dad to see that?’. Learn more.

Instil strong morals

You hear about it a lot with adults; people who are perfectly nice in person becoming acid tongued when they’re hiding behind a keyboard and a screen. And kids can easily fall into the same trap, with cyberbullying a very real issue for today’s digital natives. It sounds obvious, but really drive home how important it is for your child to act as respectfully online as they would in real life. And if they find themselves on the receiving end of nasty or hurtful actions, give them the confidence to stand up and speak out so you can tackle the issue together. Learn more.

Be a good role model

It’s usually kids who get a bad rep for being glued to their screens, but adults are guilty of it too. Remember that your child is likely to imitate your own digital habits. So, if you’re constantly distracted by your phone at the dinner table or struggle to hold a conversation without checking your social media feeds, now’s the time to unplug. Learn more.

Find out more at our Smartphone Safety Hub.