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Modeling ( showing rather than telling) is a time-tested teaching technique which can be easily adapted to teach safe and responsible online behaviors.  It can be made even more effective when we share the reasons for the behaviors, talk out loud about what we are doing, and celebrate our child’s successes.

What is modeling? 

When we model behaviors for our children we are setting examples for them to follow. We are showing rather than telling.  For a more in-depth look into how to model safe and responsible online behaviors for your children, click here.

But is that really enough? Or are there ways to increase the likelihood that your children will be responsive to what you are modeling? 

How to make modeling more effective

Think Critically 

Modeling is key, but it is also important to engage in conversation with your tween about why you are doing what you are doing.  This isn’t about lecturing; it is about helping your tween be curious.  It’s about getting your tween to start thinking critically about their online habits. By encouraging them to think more deeply, you are helping them integrate their learning.

For example, if you’ve been asking for Permission before Posting, instead of just telling your tween why that is important, ask them what they think.  If you have been working on moving Complicated Communication offline, you can ask them why they think you might be prioritizing that.


You can also think out loud about what you are modeling.

Maybe while you are scrolling through TikTok, for example, you can model for your tween how to think more deeply about the social media you are consuming.  Share your knowledge about the algorithms that apps use to keep you engaged.  Let your tween know that you are always keeping this in mind in order to make sure that you are the one in the driver’s seat when deciding what to view next.

You can also narrate how what you are consuming is making you feel.  Our Sit Back and Scroll and Mental Health Day activities are a great way to get started!


Reinforcement is a great way to make modeling more effective.  When you see your child imitating a desired behavior, make note of it – point it out – reinforce it. Our Accentuate the Positive activity is all about catching your tween succeeding!

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.