As parents, we constantly focus on developing healthy habits! We love technology because it gives us access to information, expanded communication, games and entertainment, and great shopping! But sometimes we become overwhelmed by technology, and the devices begin to control us rather than us controlling the technology. Whether or not the device belongs to the child is irrelevant! It’s the behavior that matters! So let’s set up some guidelines that focus on healthy living rather than the device-specific limitation… Here’s how it works:
Although we don’t always agree I do respect what you do and I am proud of you. As a dad and husband, my girls (you included) are the most important things to me and I want you all to know that I am fully engaged in our family!
It’s hard when I feel the pressure to financially support our family but at the same time make sure you and our daughters feel important. It’s a balancing act that takes time and I need you to be patient.
There are some things though that I now know are important to our family, my own health, and how I want my girls to remember this time.
Here is what I know NOW:
There is always 20 minutes for dinner. It was hard in the beginning to disconnect from work because I couldn’t stop wondering about what I was missing and how much I would have to catch up on after dinner. Once I got into the groove of this system, and actually put my phone away- I stopped feeling the PULL and realized how much more engaged I was in our dinner conversations. I feel now, that I learn something new about our girls each night as we sit together and I know they will remember this time!
I have also discovered that the world doesn’t come crashing down when my clients don’t here back from me within 2 minutes. But, I appreciate that when you know that I have a time sensitive deadline you can compromise and I can excuse myself from the table or situation. It gives me a sense of peace knowing if I have to I can do what needs to be done.
I also realized I can’t multitask the way I thought I could. I thought I was fully present when physically my body was there. I know now that I was missing a lot! When the girls or you say, “remember when…. “ and I don’t. I thought I could read my email and hear you but I was missing a lot!
I do sleep better. You were right about this one (as much as I HATE to admit it). Getting the devices out of our bedroom does work. It’s not just the sleep though, it’s our time together that matters too. I didn’t realize until we took the devices out that we had stopped talking. Thank you for reminding me how much we enjoy each other’s company.
I’m not saying that I promise to never look at my phone while we are at a recital and our kids aren’t performing - I know it bugs you but I am only human and can only be tortured so much :)
I can’t promise that I can and will ALWAYS put your needs and the needs of the girls before work. But I can promise to respect our family’s values.
I can excuse myself from the table if I need to connect, I can choose not to attend certain events if I know I can’t fully engage because of work. Even though I still think my presence is more important that a few back-row, no one can see me texting moment, I know it bothers you and the girls and I will respect your feelings.
Sometime we just want to set the rule and MAKE our kids "do what we say." But when it comes to technology, they usually know more than we do and it makes it hard to parent in the digital realm. So rather than fighting about things you may or may not understand, stop and focus on behavior. This contract is about behavior, balance, relationships, and respect. Give it a try!
As a family take a few minutes to write out your answers to each of the following questions. Then, together, see where there are similarities and differences. As the parent it is YOUR job to help your child navigate the physical and digital world. Their input is important so you know where they are coming from but that doesn’t mean they make the rules.
For a Printable Version Click Here.
What does privacy mean to you?
PARENTS: What will you do if YOU see something you deem inappropriate on your child’s account? Is there a difference if it is something your child posted vs. something a friend sent to him/her? What will be the protocol when you see these texts, comments, pictures, videos, etc.?
How do you keep yourself safe with:
The rule about Strangers and Acquaintances is simple: You don’t interact with them unless a trusted adult knows about it and has granted permission.
Other gamers or followers that you don’t know in real life are not bad nor good, they are just plain strangers or acquaintances. Just because you may have played with them multiple times online or they posted a positive comment on your picture or video doesn’t make them a friend. A friend of a friend is STILL a Stranger and/or Acquaintance – so the same rules apply. That word friend is saved for people who:
Let’s talk about trust for a moment. Trust is a process. It comes from setting boundaries with people and seeing if they respect those boundaries and prove they are trustworthy. Just because someone is nice to you does not make that person a friend. It takes TIME!
What apps may be downloaded and accounts created?
One of the best ways to approach this is to have the child ASK First! Then as the parent you can check out the app and age restrictions in the App Store or Google Play Store or at commonsensemedia.org. That way you can decide together if the app or account is right for your child/family.
How much screen-time is healthy for you?
Not everyday is the same, so rather than static rules that may not work for your busy household, you might want to have a more dynamic plan that can change as your daily plans change. To help decide how much screen-time is appropriate ask yourself these questions:
PARENTS: Set your kids up for success with screen time. If they ASK FIRST for screen-time whether it is for school or fun you can respond by asking how much time they need. That way you can help set expectations that make sense.
Ergonomically speaking, to avoid repetitive stress injuries and maintain healthy posture you should:
Where will the devices be charged and stored when not in use?
Getting devices out of the bedroom improves quality of sleep and reduces the chances of over-use and exposure to inappropriate content.
In order to be the most successful while learning the environment must be free of distractions. Blocking websites that distract you or turning off Messages while working or studying WILL improve efficiency as it pertains to learning and recall.
Some music (usually music without lyrics) can help focus a student. However, you have to find the right music. Setting small goals while doing homework and studying is also important to be successful. If you turn your device into Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode for a period of time while you are studying you will see results quickly.
While doing homework I will set myself up for success by:
How will you share your passwords with a trusted adult in the house?
This is not a matter of privacy but of personal safety. Every family member in the house (including adults) should write down all accounts, usernames and passwords and make them accessible to a trusted adult. If something was to ever happen to a member of the family, quick access to online accounts could save a life!
If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable (inappropriate content or inappropriate behavior including bullying) I (child) will:
PARENTS: In order to keep the lines of communication open, it is important to listen to your child and ask questions about what they saw and how it made them feel BEFORE you can work through what to do about it. Kids often hid things from their parents for 2 reasons:
Technology Free Areas/Moments include:
This could be the dinner table, bedroom (always or only at bed-time) short car trips, while driving, during recitals or while watching sporting events… This rule should pertain to everyone in the home.
Technology Manners we will follow include:
Examples: Not texting while talking to someone face-to-face, Saying “excuse me” and walking away when you need to take a call or text someone, while hanging out with friends, paying attention to the friend rather than a mobile gaming app…
Name any bad habits you feel you may have with technology?
How will you resolve those bad habits?
Consequences for breach of contract include:
Make sure the consequence is directly related to the behavior. If the child continues to argue about needing 5 more minutes after you set the time expectation, at this time, it may not be the right game for them to play. If the child creates an account or downloads an app without permission, they may not yet be responsible enough to have the device unsupervised or at all! If the child lies or is disrespectful, think about what the consequence would be if it wasn't technology related and apply the same logic.
You know your smartphone addiction has reached an entirely new level of unhealthy when you can't hit the pillow at night without it beside you.
As if it isn't problematic enough to leave your devices charging in the bedroom overnight, a survey conducted by YouGov and The Huffington Post last fall found that 63 percent of smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 29 actually sleep with their phones or tablets in their beds.
Huffington Post Article 2014 Link to Full Article
According to a new study release by Entertainment Software Association, adult women have surpassed men in the gaming population. You may think it's only teenage boys gaming but check out this article to see who the real gammers are!