You know the rules, I say to my kids.
We have rules and expectations for pretty much everything. They have heard them so often, that instead of me reiterating them, I’ll ask them to tell me the rules for a given situation, like telling me the rules for the swimming pool as we’re pulling onto the road where the pool is.
I like clear guidelines and I think my kids (somewhere, deep, deep down) appreciate knowing ahead of time what’s expected of them.
The rules for technology use aren’t as clear cut as saying don’t run on the pool deck.
There are so many things to consider- more than immediately come to mind.
We started using The Lifelock and National PTA Smart Talk agreement last year. It’s a free, online tool that helps families set ground rules for technology use and have open, ongoing conversations about online safety and responsibility.
Even though I consider myself pretty tech and social media savvy, it’s still hard to know what topics to even begin to cover with my kids. It’s difficult to think of it all.
That’s where The Smart Talk helps. It’s an interactive experience with both parent and child, leading you through a guided conversation about online safety and privacy; screen time; apps and downloads; texting and calling; and social media and respect.
You select the topics that apply to your child- my contracts look different for my middle schooler who is starting to use technology to communicate with friends, compared to my 4th and 2nd graders, who primarily use their devices for homework and gaming. Some of the topics are ones that are important but that I hadn’t originally thought to talk to my kids about, like what makes a good password.
From the time spent on devices to what the devices can be used for, to whom they can friend on social media, to spending limits on apps, to who pays if the device is broken: it’s all there. The tool creates a printable contract to hold the parent and child accountable: clear expectations that you can refer to if there’s any question that comes up about your child’s device usage.
The Smart Talk helped my middle schooler and I have conversations about what he should do if he sees something online that he’s not comfortable with and how he’d feel if there were pictures or videos of him posted that he was embarrassed by. A lot of talk about the Golden Rule and not posting anything that he wouldn’t want to see on a giant sign outside of the entrance to his school. His favorite part was where I had to promise not to freak out if he came to me for help with something that was posted, whether by him or someone else.
When we were done, here’s what part of one of our contracts looked like- for your privacy, it isn’t saved on the site, but you can go create a new contract any time that you feel the need to amend your house rules. The Smart Talk can be revisited to keep the conversation going and evolving as kids age and technology changes. This contract looks different than the one we created last year and I expect it will soon change again as my oldest ventures more into the world of social media.
We printed our contracts, signed them, and have them stored in my desk for easy reference. The Smart Talk helps stop my kids from saying “But I didn’t know!” when it comes to our family rules for technology use. You can head over to The Lifelock and National PTA Smart Talk agreement to create your own contract.
How do you set rules and guidelines for your children’s technology use?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.