Be it a birthday, Christmas, or even President’s day, any holiday soon becomes an opportunity for the gift “wish list” to surface in strategic places (in our house, it was laying next to the coffee maker this morning). Inevitably, on nearly 80% of those lists will be technology in the form of a new laptop, a tablet, mobile phone, or a mobile phone upgrade.
Giving your kids new technology is the perfect opportunity as a parent to make sure you get what you want from all these expensive gadgets. You can do that by creating a contract as a condition of the gift.
A contract (some call it a pledge or an agreement) will work especially well in households where expectations and consequences have become a bit blurred over the past year. A contract is also a great idea if you are a “first-timer” and will be giving your child his first cell phone or allowing him to create his first social profile (if he’s finally 13).
Your contract should reflect your desires and your goals of how your child should use his technology. So dream up the ideal world and outline it in a physical contract that needs to be read, discussed and signed before your child powers up.
Having a contract will set both you and your child up for success and help you transfer your values and expectations of technology to your child. What are your expectations from your child? What do you expect from your one-on-one communication now that he is mobile? What do you expect the technology to add to your home? What do you want to prevent? What do you want to your child to know (and agree to) about distracted driving, cyber bullying, his privacy, time limits, texting protocol, staying safe, and photo sharing? What are your family technology ground rules? What are the specific consequences if the rules are broken.