Guest post by Amy Williams
For families, summer is a wonderful time of year filled with days that aren’t over-scheduled. These relaxing months often find our kids running through the sprinkler, reading books, and playing pick-up games with the family.
However, far too often, these laid back days can lead to an increase in screen and social media consumption.
Our sons and daughters might take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to sneak in a few extra hours of games, messaging sessions, or to catch up on their favorite shows.
While there is nothing wrong spending time chatting with missed friends or relaxing, we need to be aware that our children might be overindulging or acting inappropriately online.
To curb these digital summertime pitfalls I recommend creating and using a technology contract to keep everyone safely and happily swiping their way clear into the new school year.
The Benefits of Family Technology Contracts
It is believed that the average teen spends about 9 hours everyday looking at a screen of some kind.
That is a crazy amount and a staggering statistic.
Of course, this stat includes tablets, televisions, computers, and, yes, cellphones.
With all of this screen time, children are exposed to a variety of threats and hidden dangers that simply can’t be deleted with a tap of a button.
Unfortunately, our technology can fail our kids in a variety of ways ranging anywhere from cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate content, identity theft, over sharing, and more which have the potential to affect their physical wellbeing, mental health, education, and future endeavors.
A technology contract is a great solution to reducing the likelihood of our kids from encountering these problems.
Basically, a technology contract is a written agreement between parents and children in regards to technology consumption and use within the family. The beauty of a technology contract is that it clearly outlines all expectations and labels the consequences if a rule is broken.
This will prevent many arguments because everyone knows what is expected and will be on the same page when it comes to technology.
10 Tips to Create A Summer Technology Contract
#1: Work as a family to write up the document and get input from everyone regarding technology use. Avoid yelling, name calling, and blaming while listening to each other.
#2: During the summer months it might be hard to curb media consumption. Before allowing access to technology every day, encourage kids to complete simple tasks like chores, reading, exercising, or another favorite activity first.
#3: Begin an ongoing conversation about cyberbullying and the power of words. Build on this as children age and include topics like sexting, viewing inappropriate content, and protecting their identities.
#4: Let children know that technology is a privilege and will be taken away if it isn’t handled responsibly.
#5: Include a section on social etiquette and let kids know that they should silence their phone in public areas, avoid phones during dinner, and turn it off at times. Many of our children suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and may struggle with stepping away from their devices.
#6: Help children understand the permeability of the Internet and how their actions today can affect them for years to come. These aftereffects can range anywhere from bullying, potential employers viewing their online personas, to being prosecuted with felony charges for child pornography if a person under age sexts.
#7: With 500,000 online predators looking for new victims every day, encourage kids to only friend or follow people they know in real life.
#8: Tell children to never share their passwords with anyone but you.
#9: Encourage kids to tell a trusted adult immediately if they encounter anything or anyone that makes them feel uncomfortable.
#10: Prepare to periodically review the contract and make changes as the family grows and changes.
OUR SUMMER TECHNOLOGY CONTRACT
Inspired by Amy, I created my own contract.
Here is the Colquitt Family Summer Technology Contract:
#1: Before any technology, reading and summer school work must be complete.
#2: Anything that is inappropriate or against our Christian faith must immediately be reported to mom and dad. You are not in trouble, but we want to discuss everything with you.
#3: I will out down my device when an adult is speaking to me.
#4: I will put my device away in the electronics bin when my time is up.
#5: I will not whine or complain, but be happy with the time that I have to spend on electronics.
MY FAVORITE TECHNOLOGY TIP
In our home, we use the app Our Pact.
This free app is absolutely amazing.
Our Pact allows you to block internet and apps, manually grant access, and schedule device use.
I have my kids’ devices completely blocked on a schedule all the time. They have to earn and spend mom bucks to gain time on their iPad.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Find her on twitter as @AmyKWilliams1