The New Device Domino Effect

May 26, 2015

If one of your children will be graduating this season, be it from elementary, middle, high school or college, it is likely you already know the new gift that they have in mind…a sophisticated new piece of technology.

As a proud parent, you may well bestow the coveted device on the accomplished graduate, whether it’s a smartphone, computer, wearable, tablet, or gaming console. And as a good digital parent, you know the drill: it’s time to do some research, sit down with your child, and have a serious conversation setting conditions and expectations around using that device.

But there is one thing you may have overlooked – and that is what happens to the technology that is being replaced as it shuffles its way throughout the family. Take your middle school graduate, soon to be off to high school, and to whom you are planning to give a new iPhone 6? He likely already has an iPhone 5 – and we bet it’s not going into the trash. More likely, a younger sibling, or perhaps even you or your spouse, will be inheriting the “old” device. Let’s say you decide to give the iPhone 5 to your daughter, a 6th grader. It’s her first smart phone, so now, she decides to give her iPod to your 7-year-old son. He used to access the internet only from the family laptop, and this will be his first ever encounter with apps. Suddenly you have a lot of new devices floating around, don’t you?

It’s important to keep tabs not just on new technology, but on new possession of technology – because every time a device changes hands, the rules of the game are different.

It’s important to keep tabs not just on new technology, but on new possession of technology – because every time a device changes hands, the rules of the game are different. You need to make sure that you set the rules and adjust the settings in order to keep the content accessed age appropriate and to keep your family safe. Here are some tips to help you:

Giving a New Device

This is the most obvious one, but make sure you don’t overlook the brand new device!

  1. First, anytime you give a new device you should use FOSI’s Online Safety Cards in order to make your family rules regarding using the new technology crystal clear.
  2. With every new app downloaded, make sure you child knows to adjust the settings to be safe. With most apps, that will involve both making a profile PRIVATE and turning location services OFF.
  3. Do your research! You can’t keep your child safe if you don’t understand what apps they are using in the first place. If you are unfamiliar with a specific new app that your child uses, FOSI’s App Tip Sheets are a great place to start.

Hand-Me-Down Devices

When a new member of the family takes possession of a device, it’s important to reassess.

  1. Be sure to delete any non-age appropriate apps.
  2. If your family uses any special parent controls, be sure that they are readjusted to reflect the new device owner.

First-Time Devices

If a younger child will be taking possession of a device for the first time, it’s time to start at square one.

  1. Read and sign FOSI’s Family Online Safety Contract with your child to make family rules clear and begin your child’s digital journey in a context of trust, respect, and responsibility.
  2. Don’t forget to point out one of the greatest benefits of our digital world – fun! Use FOSI’s tips for using technology for fun, or help your child come up with his or her own ideas. And don’t forget to join your kid for some funny YouTube videos or to learn their favorite new game.

As the Cyber Safety Expert for STOPit, I give presentations to both children and parents about being safe in our digital world. One of the themes that I am constantly focusing on with parents is that of the “teachable moment.” A new device in the family presents a wealth of opportunities to create teachable moments with your kids. Remember, they are writing their “digital book” – and with your example and guidance, you can help them make sure it’s the one they want read.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

Written by

Tom Rich

Tom is STOPit’s cyber safety expert and key spokesperson for student and parent rallies, where he encourages the creation of positive school communities. His presentations cover cyberbullying and how technology fuels this epidemic, including detailed looks into the most popular social media sites of the moment and incorporating real-life examples. Tom’s engaging presentation drives home how these forms of communication are affecting our youth everyday and making it easier to be mean to each other. He provides relevant, effective cyber-safe strategies to help children use social media in positive ways and promote safe, kind school communities. Always Connected grew out of Tom’s previous venture, Generation Text.

Tom is also a Sergeant with the Summit Police Department in New Jersey, where he has worked as a Patrol Officer, Detective, Juvenile Detective, Juvenile Sergeant, and Patrol Sergeant. Tom is the Owner and Presenter for, and has been the keynote speaker at over 700 events nationally, reaching over 500,000 students. Tom has a BA in Criminal Justice from Monmouth University.