Properly dealing with technology is an issue that parents have always faced. While it used to be as simple as limiting TV time, they now deal with monitoring many forms of technology. From eyes glued to smartphones all day to hours spent playing video games, kids are immersed in technology.
What is a Family Media Agreement?
Safe technology use doesn’t come as second nature — it needs to be taught. As a parent, the issues of when to get your child a phone, too much screen time and online harassment are top of mind. To address these concerns, it’s important to set boundaries and teach safe technology use. One way to do this is by creating a family media agreement or contract.
Family media contracts help teach proper technology use and set expectations. They allow you to start an open conversation with your kids and encourage them to be part of the decision making. By creating a family media contract, your kids will know their boundaries and have concrete consequences for breaking them.
What to Include in a Family Media Contract
A family media contract should be created when your child first starts to use technology without your supervision. This could include allowing them to play video games in their room or granting access to the family computer for a school project. Regardless of the situation, here are some factors that should be included in the family media contract.
1. Time Limits
You’ll need to have an agreed-upon time limit for each device. This might change or be adjusted as time goes on. This should also include when technology is not allowed. This could mean enforcing “no technology at the dinner table” or “no technology an hour before bedtime” rules. What’s important is that you set consistent limits on usage time and what types of technology are allowed.
2. Appropriate Content
There should be a discussion about what is considered appropriate content. If the contract is for video games, be sure to include what ratings are appropriate for your child’s age. If it’s for a phone, be sure to include what apps they are and aren’t allowed to use. For computers, discuss the types of sites they are allowed to access and give specific examples of ones they are not permitted to access.
3. Rules About Sharing
Sharing personal information online can be dangerous. Be sure to include rules about what is allowed to be shared and what should be kept private. Some topics to discuss are sharing your location, sexting and what can be posted on social sites.
Last but not least, it’s important to solidify the consequences ahead of time. This way your kids will know what happens if they break the rules. Make the rules as specific as possible and adjust the consequences based on the item. For example, the consequence for sharing inappropriate content might be different from having a phone at the dinner table.
Considering these four things will help you create a contract that fits your parenting style. Depending on your kids’ ages, you’ll want to reinforce these rules by setting parental controls on devices and monitoring their activity and technology use. Apps like Panda Dome Family will help you monitor screen time, cyberbullying and sexting.
Cell Phone Contract
Cell phones and smartphones are necessary for a family on the go. It’s important that parents can get in touch with their children when needed. Although this may be a necessity for your family, it’s also a privilege. To ensure your child uses their cell phone appropriately, download this cell phone contract and have an open discussion with them about cell phone use.
The Internet gives kids access to a great number of things, from videos to sensitive sites. If not used properly, they could stumble upon inappropriate content or put your computer at risk of getting a virus. Creating a computer contract and openly discussing the dangers of the Internet can help prevent this from happening.
Video Game Contract
Many children enjoy playing video games, but too much time spent in front of the screen and access to violence can lead to developmental issues. Video games can also make you a target of cyber-attack if not used safely. Be sure to discuss these dangers when setting limits in your video game contract.
Basic Media Contract
Technology is rapidly changing and there are many forms of media that kids have access to. If there is a different media form you’d like to create a contract for, here is a basic template that you can adjust as needed.
Staying safe online is as much a parent’s responsibility as it is the kid’s. Keep track of all the devices and protect your family from the dangers of the Internet with Panda Dome Family.