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Press Releases
Nov. 1, 2017
FOSI partners with Zift to launch ASD Digital Parenting Guidelines for Families with Unique Learners

Washington, DC – Zift and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) today announced new digital parenting guidelines for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The new guidelines build on the 7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting published by FOSI in 2016, and are designed to provide additional support for parents raising unique learners.  

“FOSI’s ‘7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting’ provide a universal starting point for navigating tech use in your home,” said Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO of FOSI. These five new guidelines build on those steps and offer concrete recommendations for a healthy and balanced time spent online.”

The ASD Digital Parenting Guidelines address:

  • the various types and quality of screen time, including apps, websites and games; 
  • the value of screen time limits and usage goals, as well as family contracts and digital ‘fasts’; and 
  • the balancing of time online and offline for specific interests.

“Raising children in the age of screens and smartphones can be overwhelming for all kinds of parents, and even more so for families whose children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder” said Michael Burns, Co-founder of Zift. “As a father of two unique learners myself, I’m hopeful that these guidelines will be a great help to other parents.”

In addition to the guidelines released today, FOSI and Zift have partnered on a three-part educational series specially dedicated to the needs of ASD families entitled “Digital Parenting and Your Autistic Child:”

  • Part 1: Special Needs Require Special Attention 
  • Part 2: Not All Screen Time is Created Equal
  • Part 3: Introducing Boundaries & Embracing Unplugging

Ben Wahl, founder and lead facilitator for Aspiring Youth, a Seattle based program that is part of Ryther, a leader in behavioral health services, sees great application for the new guidelines  “One of the main goals of our program is for our unique learners to develop tools and confidence to navigate the social world,” said Wahl.  “The guidelines developed by FOSI and Zift will be very helpful to parents as they discern how they best apply screen time-related parenting decisions for their children’s benefit.”  

The ASD Digital Parenting Guidelines and the “Digital Parenting and Your Autistic Child” series can be found at https://wezift.com/autism-and-digital-learning/and at www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting.  

About Zift

Zift believes that parenting is the most important job in the world, and so provides essential digital parenting tools, insights and resources to families in a technology-driven world.  Zift’s Parent Portal at WeZift.com provides parents, teachers and other interested parties a place to learn about and discuss the latest topics related to screen time use, online safety and social media.  The Parent Portal also offers more than 1500 helpful app descriptions and reviews, as well as resources such as digital parenting guides, how-to videos and infographics. Zift is the publisher of Detoured, the anti-sexting app, designed to help parents protect their children’s reputations.  Zift acquired Net Nanny, the popular parental control software brand, in 2016. 

About FOSI

The Family Online Safety Institute is an international, non-profit organization that works to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes leaders in industry, government and the non-profit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions and policies in the field of online safety. Through research, resources, events and special projects, FOSI promotes a culture of responsibility online and encourages a sense of digital citizenship for all. FOSI's membership includes 30 of the leading Internet and telecommunications companies around the world.

About Aspiring Youth

The Aspiring Youth program is nationally accredited and part of Ryther, a non-profit leader in behavioral health services for over 125 years. Aspiring Youth has been providing social skills groups, summer programs and other services for children, adolescents and young adults and their families in the Seattle area since 2004. Through consultation with parents, teachers and providers, Aspiring Youth helps its students generalize the tools and confidence skills they learn in the program to their social, academic and family life.  Aspiring Youth provides coaching, tutoring and young adult transition services that leverage the work done in groups and summer programs.

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