Family Media and Device Contract
Is it possible to have “too much of a good thing”?
We have all heard a form of this popular quote from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. In fact, we have probably uttered a similar version at one point in our lives. Surprisingly, this saying wasn’t written in regards to chocolate, fast food, pumpkin spice, or even our favorite spanx. Without going back to Freshman English class, many of us fail to realize this quote is fairly suggestive and was spoken by a cross-dressing heroine. Even though The Bard lived hundreds of years ago, he might have hit on a concept that everyone can relate to today: the role overindulgence plays in our lives.
Just like sugar and other guilty pleasures, our modern families are living in a world rich with good things. Especially, when it comes to our beloved technology, gadgets, and gizmos. Our technology is an essential ingredient for running our homes, juggling work, and parenting our children in the 21st century. Our devices do have a time and place, but we need to seriously consider that it might be possible we have too much of a good thing.
We need to consider the average teen spends about 9 hours consuming some form of media every day. To make matters worse, it is estimated that 70 percent of our kids take measures to hide their online activity from us. Without proper guidance, our sons and daughters can easily find themselves in a frightening plot or situation. Thankfully, we don’t need to wait and see if this turns into a tragedy, we can keep our families safe and on the same page by implementing a technology contract.
To set the stage for success, we have compiled the following checklist for a technology contract every family needs:
Start early. Ideally around the time a child begins using technology or gets his or her first cellphone, a contract should be drawn up and agreed to. By doing so, we are outlining the rules and this will be seen as a normal part of using devices.
Include everyone. We need to keep the drama and feuds out of this family activity. Choose a convenient time for all members of the family to gather and draft a document. This process will allow us to begin an ongoing discussion about the role devices play in our lives and give children a chance to voice their concerns.
Be specific. We can alleviate a lot of miscommunication and problems by clearly outlining all expectation and consequences. This will help our kids understand what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours that cross the line. We can’t leave out this act because our children don’t have the same definition for inappropriate jokes, material, or actions as we do.
Touch base on sensitive subjects like cyberbullying, sexting, and oversharing. Our boys and girls need to realize the pen can be mightier than the sword at times. Make sure they know we don’t approve of bullying, sharing personal information, and inappropriate online conduct.
Have access to a child’s accounts, passwords, and phones. Our older children might protest, but it is purely a safety measure. Let them know that we trust them, it is everybody else we worry about.
Layout rules for applications and data usage. Its important children know if they can use data, how much, and if they can purchase apps. Avoid surprise bills, by encouraging them to get approval before downloading or buying online games and apps.
Install time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting the amount of time our kid’s logon every day. They need time for face-to-face interactions, time to relax, and adequate amounts of sleep. Overusing technology can hinder all those and more!
Define the role we will play in our child’s technology use. Be open and honest if you plan on monitoring a child’s phone, reading emails, and sorting through texts. Maybe, you expect them to friend you over social media? Or, do you plan on letting them be free range? Keep them informed about our involvement so there will be no surprises.
Address driving and texting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of accidents that resulted in injuries were caused by distracted drivers. If you glance at a text while driving, you actually travel the length of a football field in those few seconds. Help children, teens, and even our partners comprehend how important it is to put down devices while driving.
What recommendations or ideas can you share for implementing a family technology contract?