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START Rules of Thumb



What exactly does it mean to be a START family? We’re glad you asked.

When it comes to digital parenting, it can be hard to know where to START. Here are our top rules of thumb for you to consider as you navigate your family’s tech life. Receive a print version of these START pillars instantly when you subscribe to our newsletter.

model healthy tech use for your kids

When studies show the average person checks a smartphone 80 times per day, we need to think about what we are modeling for our kids.  Of course, we will never be perfect…but an honest look at our own digital habits is a great first step toward building empathy, trust, and digital health as a family .

create device-free zones

Establish device-free zones in your home—a time to recharge and reconnect as a family.  A great place to start is mealtimes and bedtimes—keep phones out of sight when you are eating and  have kids charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night.  The benefits are powerful, and can create lifelong habits that foster your child’s mental health and digital well-being. 

apply filters + settings + openness

When navigating the internet, your family should apply the highest privacy settings and practices.  But, when it comes to child privacy,  the opposite is true.  Your child’s digital life—including passwords– should be shared with you at all times.  For additional accountability, avoid using devices in private.

use a driver’s ed approach to tech training

Before you hand your kids the keys to a car, you prepare them to navigate risky situations and road hazards.  They spend many years shadowing you in the backseat, followed by driving with a learner’s permit—with  you logging hours by their side to equip them with the needed skills.  Just like a car, tech comes with great responsibility—and requires an intentional training process. 

connect online + Offline

Keep your eye on what  matters most—the life right in front of you.  Be intentional about deepening connections with people in your family and community—both online and offline.  Show your kids how to be captivated by life—not screens.  Teach them to ask this simple question:  at the end of my life, what will I say was time well spent?


[Kids] need to be taught how to think about technology. We do this through modeling and conversations rich with truth. We keep on guiding and leading, complimenting and correcting, listening and watching with a heart to understand… More than anything, we keep on being present—parenting and learning with them, while knowing that’s a sign of strength, not weakness. We keep on teaching, explaining, being open to their ideas, and answering their questions.

— Kathy Koch, Screens and Teens