How to Set Tech Rules at Home
These days, raising children to become responsible adults includes teaching them how to use technology appropriately. While this can be a challenging task, it isn’t impossible. Setting clear tech rules at home is often the easiest way to prevent more significant problems down the line.
Not sure how to do this? We’ve compiled a list of tips on how parents can set guidelines for children of all ages regarding various tech items.
The most important part of setting tech rules for your child is to be very clear from the very beginning. For example, if certain items or apps are entirely off-limits, make sure this is communicated. Other elements like when it is okay to use an object—such as after school or before a curfew time at night—should also be discussed. This will help keep everyone on the same track moving forward.
Gabb Wireless makes phones for kids that do not include internet access, social media, or games to make it less of a distraction at home. It is also a good idea to choose items that correspond with the tech rules for your household. This means picking things like smartphones and gaming systems that make it impossible to give in to temptation. Need an example?
While making your rules apparent from the beginning is essential, having a tech rules contract with your child makes it easy to refer back to later. After signing in, make sure they have their copy to keep. This gives them something to look at if they even think they’re going to break a rule or if you catch them going against your wishes. Plus, the act of signing a written document is a big deal to a lot of kids and means they’ll likely follow through better with staying in the guidelines.
A lot of parents forget when setting tech rules at home by discussing who pays for broken equipment. It can be easy for a child to assume that parents will pick up the tab if the item is lost, stolen, or damaged when it comes to tablets, smartphones, and even computers. Instead, be evident that any issues need to be paid for by the child themselves—even if that means taking on extra chores around the house to earn money or a part-time job if they’re old enough. Be clear and communicate your expectations for proper care of these items, too.
Remember when you were a child and sneaking on the landline phone after your parents were asleep was a thing? These days, kids have access to all the information in the world thanks to smartphones and the internet. To ensure they aren’t distracted or wander onto a topic, they shouldn’t have clear guidelines for usage times. This might mean asking for permission before using tech or setting a timer with younger children. Teens and young adults likely need a curfew to turn the item off or put it in a designated spot within the household.
If you stop and think about it, giving children access to communicating with literally billions of people is a scary concept. When setting rules at home, make sure to have an online stranger danger conversation. Talk about what information they shouldn’t give out, how to handle when someone in a text or audio chat makes them feel uncomfortable, and other essential safety guidelines.
When it comes to parenting, creating clear consequences to go along with your tech rules is super important. After all, how are they supposed to know what to expect if they make the unfortunate decision to break the law? Take this a step further by allowing teens and older children to develop appropriate consequences for using tech, then include those guidelines in your initial tech contract.
When you’re first teaching your children how to use technology safely, limiting social media use is a good idea. Most platforms require at least thirteen or older users, but that often doesn’t stop younger preteens from lying about their age to create illegitimate accounts. Instead, have a guideline that social media use is off-limits until you know they’re ready for this step. Studies have shown that jumping into platforms like Instagram and Snapchat early can lead to addictions, bullying, and more—making it even more important to set these rules from the very start.
While your children are still learning the appropriate boundaries for using technology at home, it is essential to use whatever parental controls you can until they’re ready for more responsibility. Both Google and Apple do a phenomenal job with unique settings ideal for parents of kids and teens—many of them free. Read up on all the various options and know what you’re able to control and how you can use these tools to check up on your minor’s internet usage.
Raising children who value technology and know-how to stay safe online is essential. With the tips we’ve offered here, you can help keep the lines of communication and expectations clear with your kids and enjoy better peace of mind as a parent. After all, the tech will play a huge role in their lives. Now is the best time to teach responsibility and safety before too late.