When my daughter was born 12 year ago, iPads didn’t exist, and I had only recently, begrudgingly, acquired a snap phone. At the time, I never could have imagined how much of my parenting would revolve around smartphones, tablets, apps and social media.
Fast forward a dozen times and I’m locked in a battle with my tween over Tik Tok. Apparently, all her friends have it. It’s the same story with my nine-year-old and Fortnite. And my seven-year-old is representing his space through Zelda on the Nintendo Switch we got them all for Christmas–a game that was supposed to be for his dad.
4 tech tools that organize kids’ screen time so you don’t “re going to have to”I’ve always been a bit unsure about how to manage the whole tech and screen-time thing. Strict time limits? Unlimited use with clear expectations on behaviour and responsibilities off-screen? Or maybe a work-to-earn system, whereby various household offices garner prized times on a design?
The reality is we currently have a mish-mash of rules and some sees on their manoeuvres that generally is going to work, but when things start to feel out of control, I get persuasion to ban all the screens, all the time.
But when I came across a contract that MediaSmarts developed for mothers affording their kids new manoeuvres, it got me remembering: Maybe the work requires a brand-new colour when it comes to device use in our house.
What I like about the contract is that it accepts a certain level of trust and responsibility on the part of the kid–and it also invites a lot of the parents. For example, “their childrens” clues on “To be careful about sharing information about myself and others, ” while the mother promises, “To ask before announcing nothing about you online, including photos or videos.” Bam. Privacy and authorization, shielded off. The kid too agrees to things like not sharing passwords, exclusively touring websites they believe the parent would approve of, talking to an adult if they come across something that sees them disagreeable, and not downloading apps or buying anything online without checking with a parent first.
But it was what it queries mothers to agree to that really got me thinking about how I’ve been approaching screen time–especially my daughter’s phone use. As she’s started to communicate more and more with her friends through texting and What’s App, I’ve been dared to keep a close watch on her communications. I’ll be honest, the fright narratives I’ve heard about teenage girls, social media and online predators has me scared. But at the same time, I feel my daughter deserves some privacy, and I should eventually trust her to make good decisions.
The MediaSmarts contract assumes from the outset that the kid will do the right thing. One of the things I have to agree to? “I promise not to spy on you online unless you’ve handed me good reason to think I can’t trust you.” The contract too admitted that kids need our corroborate: “I promise to be there to help you if you need me and to always listen.” And, it clearly shows that kids deserve boundaries between us and their online social lives: “I promise not to post on any of your social network reports without asking you first.”
As far as contracts become, this looks like one we can both abide by. Will she be allowed Tik Tok? That’s still to be determined. But at least she’ll know what the expectations are as we work on developing some healthful design utilization around the house.
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