You’ve read about digital guidelines for kids and monitoring tips for parents. You’re ready to turn your tweens and teens loose on the Internet, right?! Not quite. We have one last suggestion. The last piece of the puzzle is about creating digital contracts for families.
Wait, An Actual Contract?
Yes. We realize that these items aren’t legally binding. However, written agreements help clearly outline expectations and consequences. There is less likelihood of a misstep if your kids are aware of what’s allowed and what isn’t upfront.
Creating a digital contract for your family will take a lot of the confusion out of what’s allowed and what isn’t. It’s hard to argue with something you’ve agreed to in writing, isn’t it?
Digital Contracts For Families: Components
There are several steps involved in creating the contract. If you’re the parent of, sibling to, or have ever been a teenager (ha!), you’re aware that most tweens and teens know everything. They feel 100% responsible, mature, and should just be turned loose.
(or maybe that was just me)
Set some ground rules before the conversation begins. Disclose why the contract is necessary. Be sure to emphasize that you want to protect their safety. Remind participants that the discussion is open, but that everyone must remain courteous.
Discuss limitations and considerations. As a parent, it’s your prerogative to determine the rules of your household. Foster open communication by allowing input from your kids. This reinforces that you respect their opinions, even if you do not agree.
While some items are definitively a “no,” other items might need additional consideration on your part.
For example: Though you won’t allow looking up inappropriate content, but you might consider allowing them to download an Instagram account.
Before immediately denying their request, tell them you will research it further and get back with them. If you do tell them no, explain why.
Lay out the consequences. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What happens if a member of the agreement choose to violate terms of the contract? It’s important to make the potential consequences very clear. These can include loss of privileges, grounding, loss of allowance, additional chores, etc. Whatever you decide, think of it as a teaching opportunity.
Type up each agreed-upon item. Have each member of the family sign and date it. Keep in mind that as changes happen, contract amendments are necessary. You can find some great examples on this site.
The entire SDB team wants to wish all the parents and students a happy new school year. No matter your age, we encourage you to continue being digitally smart!