For many facets of parenting, you’re able to look back on your own upbringing and decide what worked for you as a child and what you would change now that you are the parent. The rules surrounding screen time for children are so new that it is impossible to draw any reasonable parallels from your own childhood as you create guidelines for your kids.
Yet, few parents would argue that there is an issue that permeates their lives, and the lives of their children, more than screen time does. This is why it is important to have a well-researched, thoroughly thought out, and clearly communicated set of guidelines for the use of screen time within your home. We suggest creating a Screen Time Contract as a family to govern the use of technology and to set clear expectations and consequences surrounding its use.
What is a Screen Time Contract?
A screen time contract is a document created, as a family, to define the safe use of technology, the rules surrounding the use of technology, and the consequences for the misuse of technology.
Where to Start
Before you sit down to create a screen time contract with your family educate yourself.
- How much screen time should my child be getting?
- What social media apps are kids using and what do I need to know about them?
- What do I need to know about YouTube in general?
- What do I need to know about YouTube for my preschoolers and elementary school-aged kids?
- What are some common online safety concerns?
As you do your research you will begin to get a better understanding of what you feel is appropriate for your child in the areas listed above. And, as you prepare to discuss the screen time contract with your child, you will need to consider what consequences you will instate should the agreement be broken.
We’ve put together a basic outline of what your Screen Time Contract might look like. Depending on the age of your children, their developmental levels, and your family’s personal beliefs you may want to change pieces of the template, which is why we have also provided a blank version.
The important part of this process is to create healthy and honest technology users. Through the creation of this document – together – you will be cultivating communication and transparency surrounding the use of technology in your home.
Be Informed, Not afraid
With solid information, communication and honesty, your family can work together to make a Screen Time Contract that’s perfect for you. If you need guidance in this process please contact us and sign up for Parent Matters to receive more tips and tools like these.
Jessica Korzyniewski contributed to this article.
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