Three top tips from four digital families
Did you know there’s a really powerful way to help manage our kids’ technology expectations, understand how we use technology, and keep our kids safe too? It’s as simple as developing your own set of digital guidelines together to create a “digital agreement” – and it’s the first task we set for our Parent Project families.
Setting up the digital agreement
We asked our four families to think about where gadgets shouldn’t be used; how to make sure they don’t get in the way of face-to-face contact; and how parents’ self-control helps their kids to manage themselves.
Our families then sat down to develop their own rules together. This way everyone had the opportunity to understand the situation, add their suggestions, and ask questions. For instance one family talked with their children about how kids could be vulnerable to strangers online, so everyone understood that the rules are there to keep them safe.
- Time limits: All four families agreed on a “no more tech” cut off time at the end of each day, while younger families included strict time allowances during the day too. Keeping things reasonable, most said that time limits were more relaxed outside of term time.
- Where and when it’s appropriate to use phones: For families with younger kids, phones were only to be used at home. Older kids helped write guidelines around using phones in public – like rules around photos, and putting your phone away when socialising. When it’s time to switch off, several of our families nominated a spot where all devices were to be put before bedtime. One family added what they thought was a very important rule – “Never use tech in the toilet!”
- The Virtual World: families with younger children made a list of websites their kids can visit, and agreed on the need for an “okay” before downloading apps and games.
- Responsibility: All four families emphasised the importance of not letting friends use your phone, one family put the risk simply:“Don’t use other people’s devices without permission and also never let another person use your device or post from it; it will turn ugly if you do.”
- Explore!: One family also used their agreement to explore the positive opportunities that the digital world opens up, with this rule for their daughters: “Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. …This doesn’t mean that you have to listen to Iron Maiden like Dad “suggested”.”
Three top tips for developing an agreement together:
- Make sure the rules apply to the whole family
- It’s helpful for parents to monitor time limits – kids often either don’t understand how long the set time is, or they genuinely lose track
- Kids are generally happy with the agreements so long as they are fair.
And finally, of our families summed up their agreement nicely with this comment:
“”“You will mess up. We will take away your device. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.”
Find out more about setting up your own family digi agreement here.