Family Technology and Media Use Agreements:

Beyond a list of dos and don’ts

For many families facing increasing challenges with technology use, the idea of creating contracts or agreements may sound appealing. Becoming a mindful family in a digital age goes beyond a list of “dos” and “don’ts” to include the role of relationships.

Everyone has a voice

Technology agreements should begin with open conversations in which all voices have the opportunity to talk about the online world with respect to safety, digital citizenship/netiquette, critical thinking, balance, reputation, privacy, respect, and relationships.

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Creating Family Technology Agreements with Connection in Mind:

Shared Ideas and Responsibility

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Family technology agreements are teaching agreements where families are open to learning from all voices involved. Asking youth about what they think is important for all family members invites shared ideas and responsibility. It’s also eye-opening, as a parent, to hear what our children need from us as role models.

Shared Values

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Technology agreements should move beyond top-down control, which leads to criticism and resentment, to include shared values, concerns, expectations, and enjoyment of technological devices.

Modeling

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Agreements provide a context for learning forward: through shared agreements we can set and model norms that will have relevance in the moment and in the future. As we talk about the intentions behind our agreements, we’re providing inner dialogue for those moments when our children are not in our presence and they’re faced with decisions about their digital interactions.

Missteps are Meaningful

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Mindful agreements take into account that humans learn through repeated experiences: mistakes and missteps are a meaningful part of the learning journey, and how we handle these moments leads to resilience and deeper learning.

We Learn Together

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Agreements within families acknowledge that we can learn from and with one another.

Exceptions to the Rules

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While creating family agreements, talking about the intentions behind specific points is critical. When are rules absolute, and when are exceptions allowable?

Mindful Mapping

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Family agreements should include a mindful mapping of how, why, when, and where we enjoy technology.

Settings Matter

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Agreements should take into account that settings matter: what are our agreements for usage in the car, on personal computers and laptops, on game consoles, on smart-phones, and tablets?

Values & Technology

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Technology guidance reflects existing values and beliefs about relationships, privacy, and the sharing of information. Technology also has the opportunity to inform and shape our values and beliefs.

Developmental Stages

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Mindful agreements need to take into account the developmental needs at play: at different stages in our lives, technology addresses different needs including social, emotional, cognitive, professional, and personal considerations.

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