Think about technology you and your children use on a daily basis: smartphones, laptops and potentially a host of other smart devices. Being constantly connected has become a routine part of our daily lives, but I'll bet many parents remember a time before we carried powerful do-everything computers in our pockets and bags.
Your children are a different story. They grew up alongside this technology and for many young people, not having instant access to information, friends or online gaming is nothing short of a foreign concept. It also comes with its share of risks, like malware, pedophiles, cyberbullying or trouble that comes from their own doing that come back to haunt them later.
That's why setting boundaries is such an important part of being a parent, especially now in the digital age. To help, I created a technology contract that acts as an agreement between you and your children, so you'll always be in-the-know about their activities to keep them safe.
A screen time agreement for cell phones and other devices
Technology isn't what it used to be, even 5 years ago. There's no shortage of options available, from smartphones and computers, to smart TVs and gaming systems. This contract would set ground rules for when your kids are allowed to use those devices - especially their phones - and at what times they're not supposed to, such as during dinner or before their chores are complete.
On that note, just think about the social media sites and messaging apps kids are hooked on today, like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp. You've probably seen it: kids, especially teens, glued to their phone screen while thumb-typing at a mind-boggling speed.
That's why it's not just about screen time, it's also about setting limits for how long they're allowed to spend on each platform.
That also includes video games and popular online gaming platforms. If you're familiar with the craze surrounding the online game Fortnite, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about and how hard it can be to get kids to break away.
Having total access to devices and accounts
The technology contract I created not only deals with screen time, but also with your child's online activities and that can cover a lot of ground. A major part is having complete access to their devices and accounts at all times.
As part of this agreement, you would always have usernames and passwords for all devices and sites your kids use. For social media sites, that includes they let you "friend" or follow them. You can check their text messages, browsing history and what they've downloaded.
Your kids would make a promise to never use secret accounts or devices, and to not tamper with settings of any parental tracking app installed on their phone. They would also promise to never share online credentials with anyone else, including their friends.
Your kids' online safety
Who do your kids talk to online? What personal information do they share with others?
My contract also reinforces the age-old rule about strangers, especially when it involves meeting someone you met online, in-person. Predators hide in the digital shadows, many of them looking for children through dating apps and YouTube.
That's part of the dark side of the digital age, which can also involve cyberbullying. The agreement also stresses just how important it is for them to let you know when they're being bullied, and to make sure they know it's not okay to bully or say bad things about others online.
That can lead your child, or someone else's, to think about hurting themselves. Which, again, is why it's so important to stay involved in your child's digital life.
Download my free family phone and internet contract
This tech contract between you and your kids all comes down to safety. Children also need to be aware that any access to online devices and accounts is a privilege, not a right.
Use this agreement as a way to educate them about staying safe and acting responsibly online, and why it's so important that you, the parents, stay involved in these aspects of their lives.
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