Setting Up a Family Technology Contract

By Tracey Dowdy

A Family Technology Contract can be a powerful tool in establishing boundaries and set your family up for success instead of frustration and tears.

And because the holidays mean new devices for many of us, there’s no time like the present – get it, the present? as in time and gift – to set some boundaries for its use.

The best approach to establishing boundaries is to make your agreement a partnership between you and your child. By involving your child and explaining the reasons behind the rules, he or she will take ownership and be more likely to comply with the guidelines. And, because the agreement requires commitment from you, your child will be more likely to see this as a fair and balanced arrangement.

Child – I will not share private information including my phone number, address, name of my school, parents, or siblings without my parents’ consent.
Parent – I will carefully monitor the sites and apps my child is interested in and ensure our privacy settings are up to date to provide the safest online experience possible.

– I will respect the time limits set for me and understand technology use is a privilege. I will not neglect my homework, chores, extra-curricular activities, or family time, and understand they always come first.
Parent – I will set reasonable time limits and understand if my child sometimes needs additional time. I will listen respectfully and may allow additional time if we both agree the privilege has been earned and is appropriate.

– I will not say anything online I would not say to someone face to face. I understand bullying is just as wrong online as in the real world and I will not comment or share anything that would hurt another person.
Parent – I will monitor my child’s behavior and deal with inappropriate behavior immediately whether my child is the aggressor or the victim. I hold the same online behavior standards for myself.

– If someone says something to me online that makes me feel uncomfortable or unsafe I will tell my parents right away.
Parent – I will not blame or shame my child if someone makes them feel unsafe, even if my child has broken the rules in our technology agreement. I will help my child safely remove himself from the conversation or situation and will always protect him.

Child – I will not agree to meet someone I have been talking to online without talking to my parents first. If my parents say we can meet, I will ask my parents to come along and we will meet in a safe, public location.
Parent – I will monitor my child’s online friendships and I reserve the right to end any relationships that I deem unsafe or unhealthy.

– I will not share passwords without my parents’ consent.
Parents – I will set secure, complex passwords that cannot easily be hacked.

Child –
I will not download, purchase or update software, apps, games, or anything else without my parents’ consent.
Parents – I will set up parental controls and ensure they are up to date so that my child cannot accidentally update, purchase or download without my consent or assistance.

Child –
I will be patient with my parents if they don’t understand a game, app or anything else I am doing online.
Parents – I will do my best to stay up to date with trends in technology and be respectful of games, apps or websites my child is interested in even if I don’t understand them.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.





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