How to Set and Enforce Technology Ground Rules

It’s typical for everyone in the family to own or use a device these days, whether it’s a laptop, tablet, smart phone, or all of the above. It’s almost essential in today’s modern world, but that doesn’t mean that this dependence on gadgets is without challenges for parents. In order to take control over the family’s use of technology, parents have to create rules and ensure that they’re followed. Here’s a helpful guide on how to set and enforce technology ground rules for your family:

Set limits on screen time

Decide how much screen time you want kids to have each day. If they have a game that they enjoy playing, videos that they like to watch, or they just want to connect with friends on social media, set a timer. Once the timer goes off, it’s time to put the devices away for the day. If you don’t feel comfortable with your child having their cell phone in their room at night, pick a space in the kitchen or family room where everyone can leave their phones to charge overnight. Another good idea is to pick a day to be screen free. As a parent, you can show your kids the importance of screen free time by putting your device down when you ask them to, as well.

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Create a family contract

Create a contract for everyone in the family to sign that details the ground rules and expectations related to technology use. Have a discussion about staying safe online, cyberbullying, sexting, and other common concerns related to the internet. Encourage positive behavior and healthy habits related to technology. This also presents an opportunity for kids to ask any questions that they may have about their device, social media sites, and more. A contract is a good reminder of the expectations you have for the kids, and it allows you to start and continue a dialogue with them about technology’s role in your home.

Parents control devices

You may have purchased that expensive smart phone and given it to your child to use and keep, but it still belongs to you. You have to take control over the device before you even hand it over to them. Install a family tracker app, set up parental controls, and create the passcodes and passwords for their various accounts. If the kids aren’t playing by the rules, you can take the device away.

Related: Should parents take away cell phones at night?

Decide on a punishment

Figure out what will be an appropriate punishment if the ground rules are not followed. You may choose to take away the device for a set amount of time, or to simply limit the time that they can spend playing games or surfing the web. If the rules are broken, kids need to realize that there will be consequences. Technology is a great tool and comes in very handy, but we shouldn’t be dependent on it at all times. Don’t be afraid to enforce your own technology ground rules in order to keep your kids safe and healthy.