Inside: If you are looking for ways to help make technology safer for your kids and less of a battleground for your whole family, these tech rules are the help your looking for to make a difference right now.
Do you ever hear yourself saying any of these phrases that have become all too common in homes across America these days?
“I can’t get my kids to stop playing on their DS/Wii/Playstation/iPad/Cellphone”
“It feels like technology is taking over our lives”
“Anytime I tell them to turn it off, it turns into a major battle”
Managing technology and your kids/teenagers can feel overwhelming. Every time you turn around there are new devices, new apps, new types of social media and new online threats.
You feel like you’re barely keeping up and technology becomes just one more area where you are not being the kind of parent you think you should be.
It may seem like you need to become a technology expert, but it can actually be easier than you think to take control of technology before technology takes over your family.
Have you set family technology rules for your family?
Maybe you have a few that aren’t really written down anywhere and that are implemented with less consistency that you would like.
We are all guilty of setting screentime limits on Tech only to find that we’ve gotten caught up in making dinner or other household responsibilities and sort of let the time limits come and go unenforced.
What about tech at the table? Many families want to have a tech free dinner, but find they face resistance. Sometimes, it’s even parents who have a hard time abiding by their own rules.
Do you think you should be using parental controls or restricting the apps your kids can download, but you’re afraid to put up these boundaries because you feel like it’s spying on your kids or maybe they will resent you for it? You’re not alone.
This is Why You Need Family Tech Rules
Rules around technology use aren’t a negotiable when raising kids in today’s world. And they will help to keep your kids safe, protect their privacy and help reduce many of the battles you may be experiencing in your family life.
Believe it or not, house technology rules will make your life easier. And they will help your kids understand the expectations and limitations and the reasons behind them.
Where to Start
Sorry, but not sorry, to say this, but it starts with you the parent. Before you can even begin to help your children to make wise choices when it comes to technology use, you have to ask yourself exactly what behaviors am I modeling? If you aren’t exercising discipline and you’re constantly on your iphone or tablet, you can’t expect anything different from your children.
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Psst: there’s a super cute family technology rules printable at the end of the post. Hang it over your family computer or on the fridge to serve as reminder for your kids and for you!
The Reasons Behind The Family Technology Rules
Discuss these family technology rules with your kids so they understand the “why”. Feel free to share with them recent research about tech addiction or the problems that too much technology can create for kids (Lack of attention span, depressions, anxiety, poor grades, social isolation)
The social dilemma is a great documentary to watch with older elementary kids all the way to your high school kids that can show them just how truly manipulative and harmful social media is for everyone.
It doesn’t need to be a big lecture, but most kids really do want healthy boundaries and when they know rules are being put in place to protect them, they know you’re doing your job as their parents. While they may act annoyed, the lasting result are kids who feel more secure and confident.
1. Technology is a Privilege Not a Right
As a parent you ARE obligated to provide some basics to your children. These are their rights as your children and include things like food, shelter, clothes, a K-12 education and your love. Nowhere in the parent agreement does it state you MUST provide them with a TV, an iPhone, an tablet, a computer, two different gaming systems with games for each and endless hours utilizing these various technologies. Those are NOT rights.
I have told my children for several years now, “your expectation for technology time should be zero, anything you get above that should be considered a privilege.” Then I make a cute little “zero” with my hands together kind of like the little hand hearts young people like to make these days.
This helps them to understand that having technology available and being given the opportunity to use it is not an automatic, they have to hold up their end of being part of our family or else technology is the first thing to go. It also helps them to be appreciative of technology time when they have it.
2. All Technology Must Be Parent Approved
Whether it’s watching a certain television show, downloading a new app, using your family computer (which is good to place in an open living area so you can always monitor them on it) or purchasing a new video game, they MUST ask your permission. If they do not, and this includes at other people’s houses, and you find out then it results in a TOTAL loss of all technology.
Each family has to determine for themselves the length of the time-out from tech based on the offense, but this is a zero tolerance policy and you as their parent should NEVER make an exception.
If you are unsure about whether or not something is appropriate for your child – A simple visit to Common Sense Media should provide you with all the info you need.
3. We Value People More Than Technology
How often has your child completely ignored a request you’ve made b/c they are zombified by the TV or else maybe you’ve heard your children using unkind words when they are playing a video game with a friend or sibling?
Your children need to be taught to value their relationships and that those relationships should always be put first. If my child fails to respond to me, because they are too absorbed in technology, then the technology gets turned off for the rest of the day and sometimes the rest of the week.
When it comes to how we treat people when technology is involved, whether it’s smack talk gone too far when playing video games or for older kids it could be using texting or social media to be cyberbully to another child, I once again will remove the technology at that moment. However, we will talk about why they made the choices they did and how to be better next time. If the behavior becomes repetitive, then we “take a break” for a determined amount of time until they can prove they are deserving of another opportunity.
4. Devices Don’t Come to the Dinner Table
Period. End of Story. The End.
This is the best chance you have as parents to connect with your children and find out what is going on in their lives. If everyone is too busy with tech, then you lose out on this important family time.
Helpful Tip: Another great way to connect with our kids without screens is board games. Need some suggestions: Family Games For All Ages and Occasions
5. There is No Tech Behind Closed Doors
There is plenty of evidence to support that when children have TV’s, computers and other technology in their bedrooms it is not a great idea. However, this is really a family by family choice. Whatever you choose though, there is NEVER a reason that a child (toddler to teen) needs to have technology of any kind behind a closed door. It simply invites trouble and while you want to trust your kids, why provide temptation that isn’t absolutely necessary.
6. Chores and Homework Come Before TV and Video Games
This goes back to technology being a privilege and not a right. Your kids need to be able to put their responsibilities to their family first and also to adopt the work before play principle. This is also a step in teaching your children about priorities and how to put first things first.
7. Turn it Off is NOT a Negotiation
I do not demand my children turn off the TV or quit a game they are playing on our iPad without some warning, this is only fair. I will give at least a five minute notice before I am expecting them to turn it off.
However, after the grace period is up, I’ve made it clear that they should not beg for more time, whine and complain, or even worse, have some sort of tantrum. In the event this occurs, no more technology privileges for a set period of time. When they get tech time back, I remind them why they lost it and that they will have the same consequence doubled if it happens again.
8. We Break It We Help Pay to Replace It
Let’s face it, most technology is expensive. It is okay to talk with your kids about the investment made in a purchase and the importance of caring for their possessions properly. For your littles, you need to show them the right and wrong way to handle these different devices and for all your kids there should be an established safe place to put things when they are done using them. If your kids are careless, then they absolutely need to, at a minimum, share the burden of paying for a replacement.
For older kids this money can come out of an allowance or savings or they can do extra chores to earn the money to help replace the broken item. Younger children may not be able to monetarily help, but it may mean an item just isn’t replaced or else if it is, they no longer can use it.
9. We Use Technology Appropriately or We Lose It
Using tech in a way that could potentially harm any human being, including oneself is inappropriate. This means you’re going to need to have age appropriate conversations with your child about the dangers that exist online. There needs to be a clear understanding about the language and photos that are acceptable vs. unacceptable to be placed online.
Do not assume your child “knows better”, be blunt and state the obvious. We also need to coach them on appropriate social etiquette and how to be respectful online. Children, and many adults, feel a false sense of anonymity when they are interacting with others online and may act in ways or say things that they never would in other situations.
Related: A cellphone contract can be a great way to reinforce this with older kids.
Cell Phone Rules For Tweens and Teens (Printable Cell Phone Contract)
Technology Requires Maturity
You can have good kids, but that doesn’t mean they will ALWAYS make good decisions. Children do not have fully developed decision making capabilities or the ability to think through their decisions to the long-term consequences even in their teens. That is why they are yours until they are at least 18 and it’s why they need family technology rules.
If they do not demonstrate the maturity necessary to handle different aspects of technology appropriately, then they don’t deserve to have the technology. Both for their safety and the safety of others. Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy, you know your child better than anyone and it is your job to be their parent, not their friends.
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