Kids today are growing up in a dizzying connected world of technology. Even if they’re not accessing the internet on smartphones, tablets, and laptops at home, they’re likely using them at school. A technology contract is a great way to collaborate with your family on rules around using devices and accessing the internet. It can help make sure the whole family is on the same page about how to get the most out of technology, and most importantly, stay safer online. You can download Bark’s Technology Contract here.
Here are a few tips for using a technology contract with your family.
Consider a technology contract as collateral for your child’s device
As more and more kids have access to connected devices, the pressure for parents to provide kids their own smartphones and tablets is heating up. But technology is a privilege, not a right. And in most cases, parents are the owners of their kids’ devices, not kids. It’s OK to remind your kids that you’re loaning them the device in good faith, and require a technology contract in exchange.
Set the ground rules
While the internet offers amazing possibilities, there are also many dangers that exist online. Here are a few points to consider.
- Depending on your child’s age, we recommend setting their password for any and all accounts they access and your child isn’t allowed to change them. If your child is older, you may want to consider letting them set their own passwords. With either approach, including a monitoring tool like Bark will provide an extra level of safety to their online activity.
- It’s your right as the parent to look through the device at any point to see which sites they visit and who they’re communicating with online.
- Make sure your child knows to never video chat with strangers, and that they’re not allowed to provide any personal information on any forum or website without your permission.
- For teens with a driver’s license, make sure you have a strict no-texting-while-driving rule in place. This is not only the law in many states and can result in costly fines, but it can also be deadly. Check out AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign. They’re raising awareness around distracted driving and encouraging teens to put their phones down while driving.
- Make it clear that there are consequences for disobeying the technology contract and rules. Consequences can include the loss of privileges associated with their device, losing access to the device for a set time period, or something else that makes sense for your family.
- Remind your child that you’re a team and in this together. Mistakes will happen, but you’re there to discuss it with them and learn together.
Discuss online etiquette
In addition to setting safety rules for your child, it’s also critical to help your child understand that there is basic etiquette for navigating the online world. For example, you could set rules about turning the device off in certain public places like restaurants or at the movies. Or, you could consider a rule where the whole family puts their devices away while having dinner together, or everybody leaves their devices in the kitchen to charge overnight while sleeping.
Your child may know how to be a good person in real life, but the anonymity of the internet can sometimes blur the lines, so it’s a good idea to spell it out clearly that they should never lie, fool, or hurt others online. Remind your child to be a good friend and never promote or share hurtful messaging by others. And, if your child is old enough to access social media sites, teach them the basics of privacy and if you’re using Bark, explain you’re monitoring their activity to ensure their safety, not to snoop.
Model the behavior you want your child to emulate
Children watch what the adults in their lives are doing, so be mindful of how you use technology around them. For example, a “no smartphone at the dinner table” rule should include adults, too. So set a good example and interact with technology with the same respect you expect from your child.
The internet opens doors to amazing things for your child, and the conversation around responsibility, respect, and safety should be ongoing as technology continues to evolve. With a technology contract in place, everyone in the family can refer to it for clear expectations and actions. To make sure your child is using their smart devices safely, sign up for Bark and let our algorithms monitor their social media and alert you to any potentially harmful issues.