Have The Smart Talk

This blog post was also featured in LifeLock’s Unlocked blog. Read the full post.


Technology plays a starring role in protecting your identity. As a company, we, of course, think it’s important—and I love the stuff. But when it comes to my kids…well, everything seems to get murky. How much screen time is too much? When is technology opening doors for my son, and when is it becoming a crutch? And of course: what’s safe and what’s not?

There’s a reason LifeLock works hard to educate our members about how to proactively protect themselves, and why we train law enforcement agencies nationwide to keep them up to date on the methods used by identity thieves. Education is the best complement to technology when it comes to protecting yourself.

The-Smart-Talk-SquareI had been thinking about this a lot when I sat down with my oldest son to walk through The Smart Talk—a new tool we developed in partnership with the National PTA that helps parents and children easily agree on ground rules for safely using technology. My son is approaching his teenage years—an age where technology and online safety become much more important, and managing the risks involved is something best handled together. Both my son and I have things to learn, and we’re both responsible for his safety.

What I liked about The Smart Talk is that it was a negotiation—not a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead of dictating the rules, I got to lead the conversation and offer input while the tool let my son do the actual driving. With a few clicks, we got to decide together what was right for our family. Complicated things like how to set secure passwords came with guidance. And items I wouldn’t have thought of at all—like which specific social networks might be inappropriate for my son—were included in the tool. I loved that it facilitated a conversation with my son, and he loved it because it was interactive and created using technology.

With our son starting school this week, the conversations we had about bullying, being respectful when sharing photos, and keeping personal information secure were timely. And the best part? It only took 15 minutes—my son was never bored, and I didn’t feel like I was delivering a lecture.

When we were done, the tool produced a contract for us both to sign, giving the whole family ownership of our online ground rules, and reminding us to revisit them every so often.

I spend my work days thinking about helping our 4 million members and protecting their security, so it’s nice to be able to worry a little less about what my kids are doing online. I said that education is the best complement to technology, and I’m proud to work for a company that believes this too. Head over to TheSmartTalk.org to try it with your family.

Michael Hargis is the senior vice president of member services and business operations at LifeLock.

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