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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

A Parent’s Pledge to Raise a Responsible Digital Citizen

November 12, 2010

The following parent’s “pledge” was originally written for and posted on SafetyWeb is a thoughtfully designed tool that provides parents with a means and a context for ongoing family conversations about safety, friendship and how the choices we make, online and off, have consequences.


3 out of 4 t(w)eens regularly use social media. (UPDATE Oct. 2013: The proportion of teens who say they don’t use social networks fell from 6% earlier this year to 2% the latest survey reports.) While the young ‘uns are scary good at navigating the tech, when it comes to connecting the dots between their digital choices and the resulting social consequences, most of them are clueless. If your kid has a cellphone and access to the Internet it’s up to you to teach them how to behave.

Q: If you don’t, who will?

A: Their equally clueless friends.

As a parent, I pledge to do the following to raise a responsible Netcitizen and teach my child about online safety:

  • Social media is part of my child’s world. As a Safety Conscious Digital Parent, I pledge to do my best to raise my child to be a responsible digital citizen.
  • I pledge to support my child’s use of age-appropriate social networking sites and to teach my child how to play safe and stay safe online so (s)he can grow in positive ways from online activities.
  • I pledge to teach my child the difference between what is and what is not responsible and appropriate online behavior. That includes teaching my child the best ways to respond to anything online that makes him/her uncomfortable, angry or scared.
  • I pledge to help my child understand the risks of giving out or posting personal information publicly online. (including photos, age, last name, name of school, home address, phone number.)
  • Digitally-savvy kids’ “status anxiety” (their need to be accepted) affects their online behavior. My child has the right to choose his/her friends, but not the right to demean, harass or intimidate others. I pledge to make sure (s)he gets this message and acts accordingly.
  • I pledge to have open, respectful dialogues with my child about how (s)he uses the services I give her access to online. When my child messes up (it’ll happen), I pledge to use the opportunity to teach him/her more socially acceptable behavior.
  • I pledge to help my child discern between a true friend and someone with bad intentions, so that (s)he can use good judgment regarding online “friends,” as well as his/her own behavior.
  • I pledge to educate my child on how their public online activity leaves a lasting digital footprint that teachers, college admissions officers, or future employers may see.
  • I pledge to help my child understand the implications of online behavior so that my child can maintain his/her privacy, safety and good reputation while we keep a healthy, trusting and mutually respectful relationship between us.

You don’t need me to tell you why this stuff is import. So… can we all count on each other to do this?



  1. Thanks for the article! It is a great reminder (or first notice?) to parents that monitoring and educating themselves and their children’s time on the webis VERY important . I talk to many parents who are still stuck on the “i don’t want to be THAT parent” in explaining why they do not follow their child’s activity on line. we need to change that type of mentality because the consequences are too great.

    Comment by Byron — November 17, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  2. […] A Parent’s Pledge to Raise a Responsible Digital Citizen | Annie Fox's Blog RT @Annie_Fox A Parent's Pledge To Raise Good Digital Citizens #digitalcitizenship (tags: digitalcitizenship […]

    Pingback by links for 2010-11-23 « David Wicks: Educational Technology — November 23, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  3. This is an interesting area for me. I love tech. I love social media. I use it in the classroom, for my business, for my own pleasure… It is a part of my life, yet I am limiting my kids access to Social media and will do so for as long as possible.

    Some might call me a hypocrite but hey that is my parental prerogative. However; I seem to be in good company as I am encountering more and more students who’s parents will not allow them to have a facebook account, use twitter or have a blog. There seems to be a bit of a digital backlash as of late and I am quite glad of it.

    I see daily the havoc social media and access to it has in young peoples lives. The academic, social and personal mayhem caused by this digital dependence on many of my students is significant, yet those kids who have their access restricted by parents seem to me to be far better off both in and outside of the classroom.

    Yes, once our kids get a hold of social media, we need to teach them well but we certainly don’t NEED to give them access any sooner than absolutely necessary.

    Then again I am a grump.

    Comment by Keith Rispin — November 27, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  4. Love it! Thanks for posting this.

    Comment by Anastasia — December 20, 2010 @ 5:14 am

  5. These are very helpful and proactive, not intrusive. I appreciate the tone. The more a parent can use and learn about social media, the better, in my opinion, because this is the water we/they are swimming in.

    Comment by Miven Trageser — January 24, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  6. These are all good points. You can add that I promise to learn as much as I can from my child rather than acting like I know it all. This means I have to listen and show respect. I will encourage them to think about the consequences of their digital behavior rather than telling them what to think.

    Comment by Douglas W. Green, EdD — August 1, 2011 @ 3:35 am

  7. Hi Douglas, I really like the point you added. Father/Mother doesn’t always know best and when we listen to our kids not only do we learn a boatload we also model what it means to be a good listener (open-heart/open-mind). Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Annie — August 1, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  8. Thank you for providing parents with a practical solution to complement the growing information we have on social media and teens.

    Your last two Pledge points are so important for parents (and educators): learn how to manage social media for privacy and for opportunity.

    We never again want to hear about a student with a bright academic future who is cut off from his/her school of choice because of an inability to manage behavior online.

    Let’s help our kids hone their social media skills to build and share their talents online and off!

    Comment by Elizabeth — August 30, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  9. […] Annie Fox’s Parent Responsibility Pledge […]

    Pingback by Help for parents of kids dealing with bullying | — September 9, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  10. Thanks, Annie. Your leadership in thinking through the 9 pledges is helpful to parents everywhere.

    Comment by Jean Tracy, MSS — October 27, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

  11. […] Annie Fox, an American educator who empowers young people through increased self-awareness, emotional intelligence skills and stress-reduction strategies, has published a manifesto for today’s parents. […]

    Pingback by A parent’s pledge to raise a responsible digital citizen | iQ — February 19, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  12. […] and the challenge of getting along with people. Talk to your children about resolving conflicts (online and off). Find out which of their approaches work well and which ones not so much. Make sure the discussion […]

    Pingback by Day 17: Kindness and Respect Challenge (Beyond Shut Up and Listen to Me) | Annie Fox's Blog — October 17, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  13. […] A Parent’s Pledge to Raise a Responsible Digital Citizen By Mona Lam-Deslippe | September 3, 2013 | Digital Citizens, Uncategorized | […]

    Pingback by Being Good Digital Citizens | A Song for our Sisters — December 10, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  14. […] as this new school year kicks off, I encourage you to take a look at The Parents Pledge to Raise a Responsible Digital Citizen. Go over it with your kids before you give them access. And if you’ve already given them […]

    Pingback by How do we teach kids to play nice on social media? | Annie Fox's Blog — September 2, 2015 @ 9:17 am

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