Children nowadays are navigating through a fast-paced technological landscape. Whether they’re exploring the online world on smartphones, tablets, and laptops at home or utilizing them in their school environment, technology has become an integral part of their lives. While these devices offer incredible capabilities, they also bring potential challenges.

Creating a technology contract provides an opportunity for your family to work together in establishing guidelines for device usage and internet access. This collaborative effort ensures that everyone in the family is aligned on how to maximize the benefits of technology and, more importantly, how to prioritize online safety.

Consider these suggestions when implementing a technology contract with your family.

Using a Technology Contract as a Responsible Approach for Your Child’s Device

With the increasing prevalence of connected devices among kids, the parental dilemma of providing smartphones and tablets intensifies. However, it’s crucial to recognize that technology is a privilege, not an inherent right. In most cases, parents are the rightful owners of their kids’ devices, emphasizing the need to communicate this aspect to their children. It’s entirely acceptable to convey that the devices are provided in good faith, accompanied by the requirement for the child to sign a technology contract as a form of agreement.

Establishing Clear Guidelines

While the vast possibilities of the internet are captivating, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential dangers that lurk online. Here are some key points to consider:

  • For younger children, it’s advisable to set and manage passwords for the accounts they access, disallowing them from making changes. Older children may be granted the responsibility to set their own passwords, supplemented by the use of a monitoring tool like Pinardin for enhanced online safety.
  • As a parent, you have the right to periodically inspect the device, scrutinizing the websites they visit and their online communications.
  • Emphasize to your child the importance of never engaging in video chats with strangers and the strict prohibition against sharing personal information on any platform without your explicit permission. This includes details like their name, address, school, birthday, or any other information that could compromise their safety.
  • If your teenager has a driver’s license, enforce a strict no-texting-while-driving rule, aligning with both legal requirements and safety concerns. Explore AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign to raise awareness about distracted driving and encourage responsible phone usage while driving.
  • Clearly outline the consequences for breaching the terms of the technology contract. Possible repercussions may involve losing privileges associated with the device, restricted access for a defined period, or other measures aligned with your family’s values.
  • Reinforce the concept that you and your child are a team, navigating this technological journey together. Acknowledge that mistakes are part of the learning process, fostering an open environment for discussion and growth.

Promote Online Etiquette

Beyond establishing safety guidelines, it’s crucial to impart to your child the importance of adhering to basic etiquette in the online realm. Consider implementing rules such as powering off devices in specific public settings, like restaurants or during movies. Another option is to establish a family rule of stowing devices away during meal times or leaving them in the kitchen to charge overnight while everyone sleeps.

While your child may excel in displaying good behavior in real-life interactions, the online world’s anonymity can sometimes blur ethical boundaries. Clearly articulate the expectation that they should never deceive people online. Emphasize the importance of being a positive friend who refrains from promoting or sharing hurtful messages. If your child is at an age where they access social media, provide guidance on privacy basics. If you’re utilizing monitoring tools like Bark, assure your child that the intention is to safeguard their well-being, not to invade their privacy.

Lead by Example for Your Child

Children closely observe the actions of the adults in their lives, making it crucial to be mindful of your own technology usage in their presence. If there’s a rule like “no smartphones at the dinner table,” ensure that it applies to adults as well. Demonstrate the behavior you desire from your child by setting a positive example in your own interactions with technology.

The internet offers incredible opportunities for your child, and the dialogue surrounding responsibility, respect, and safety should remain ongoing as technology advances. Having a technology contract in effect allows every family member to have a reference point for clear expectations and appropriate actions.