Keeping Kids Safe Online with Family Digital Pact
Modern technologies bring certain changes in the way today’s parents raise their children. Newest digital devices and the World Wide Web can help moms and dads stay connected with their little ones, keep an eye on them, entertain and educate them. However, the majority of children who get to know about smartphones, tablets and social media from the very young age, become really excited and sometimes even obsessed with any possibility to play, chat or surf online. Disciplining kids in this aspect can become a real challenge for the parents, as discussing and persuading doesn’t always work. And that’s where such thing as family media agreement (otherwise called digital family contract) can help parents set up rules and take the situation under control.
Let’s clear up what a digital contract is. It is a document that declares the rules, which children should follow while using the Internet, TV or any other digital device. A parent – teen contract also confirms the duties and powers of parents regarding this question. Such pact may refer to one specific device, e.g. a smartphone, to online activity on a particular social network or to using any media and the World Wide Web in general.
There are no general recommendations as to the age of the children when parents can suggest them using a family digital pact. It refers to each kid individually: when do they get their first mobile device, how much time they spend online and how active as the Internet users they are. However, parents should keep in mind that more children today become technically savvy at a young age, and sooner certain rules are set for them, the better it is.
Applying different types of a digital family pact will bring a number of advantages both to children and parents:
- A family online safety contract lets parent sum up their expectations and make it clear for the children what behavior online is appropriate and what is a taboo. With the help of such agreement, parents can monitor their kids’ Internet activity better and protect them from various threats that the World Wide Web hides. For example, some points of such contract may oblige a child not to talk online to anyone they don’t know in person. Also, it may prohibit kids share any of their personal information including their address, age, last name, or ask parents’ permission each time they want to download some new apps or media file. An online safety contract can also prevent teens from being cyber bullied or bullying others, from being enticed into online schemes, sexting and viewing inappropriate content.
- An Internet use contract for teens itself can limit the time children are allowed to spend online daily/weekly and outline the list of the sites that parents believe to be safe for children to visit.
- A teen phone contract can set the limits of time a child may spend on their smartphone talking, surfing the Net or playing. Such pact can also clarify how much money a kid is allowed to spend monthly for cell connection.
An online search will provide you with tens of examples of family contracts. You may need to look through a few of those to choose the one that meets your interests the most. Here are several good social media agreement templates to start from: by Common Sense Media, by Family Online Safety Institute, by Yahoo, by Safekids.
Here are a few useful tips that will help parents to create an effective digital family pact:
- Before writing a digital agreement, parents should initiate an open discussion with their kids and explain all restrictions and rules they would like to set. Children should understand that by suggesting a home contract, parents do not mean to limit their privacy and rights; all they want is to help them become more disciplined and protect them from various online threats.
- Creating your own digital pact can be even more effective because you can make it as detailed as you want and make it tailor your child’s needs in particular and your family’s situation in general. Writing a home contract together with your teen can help parents and children understand each other’s wishes and demands
- When writing a digital family pact, suggest using a reliable parental monitoring app as one of its points. Such app will help parents to control the fulfillment of conditions of the contract more effectively, and will keep children more responsible and disciplined while providing a high level of online security and protection.
Overall, a family digital contract is an effective way of providing Internet safety for teens which every modern parent should try out.
Would you like to create a family digital contract for your child?