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Kids & Technology Issue1234

Setting Limits and Expectations for Kids Online

As we said in our previous email in this series, your kids’ access to technology is a ​privilege, not a right. So long as you are providing a roof over their heads and food on the table – not to mention paying their phone bills — you are the authority in the relationship, and what you say goes.

The key to maintaining this adult-child relationship in a healthy, positive way is to establish a set of rules and expectations that your kids will agree to follow and meet. And as long as your kids do what is expected, they can continue to have access to their devices. But if they break the rules or otherwise abuse your trust, you have the right to take away their access to phones, tablets and any other Internet-connected devices they might have. (Hopefully you have inventoried their gadgets as we suggested in email #1.)

In the following teaching activity, we have suggested certain rules you might want to ​include in your list. But be sure your rules are personalized to fit your family’s situation. You should also let your kids know that you will add new rules as they become necessary. (This can help head off negative behavior before it starts.)

Teaching Activity

Setting Expectations

When establishing rules and expectations, it is crucial that they are well understood both by parents and their children. This means they should be clear, unambiguous and reasonable. Don’t set rules that are difficult to follow or that can easily trip up your kids. The whole idea is to prevent misbehavior so that you don’t have to use negative consequences. After you sit down and make a list of simple rules your kids must follow in order to maintain access to their devices and consume media such as television and online videos, go over them with your kids and explain what each one means.

Suggested rules include:

  • Establishing “down times” when phones, tablets and other devices must be turned off and plugged into their chargers. Mealtime is a great time for this, as is homework time and bedtime. You can also establish “tech-free times” on the weekends when you and your kids can enjoy family activities together, such as visiting a museum or going to a sporting event or the zoo.

  • Making sure your kids understand that as a parent, you have access to and can check their devices any time. This is a big one. They may complain that you’re violating their privacy. But generally speaking, they really don’t have any privacy as minors living under your roof, and they need to accept that fact. That being said, there are times and situations when you can grant a certain level of privacy to your kids.

  • Tying your kids’ school performance and grades to their access to technology. If their grades slip, access should be limited to school-related activities only. That means they can use the Internet to research a paper but not to chat with friends or surf aimlessly.

  • Requiring your teens to phone home at certain times of the evening when they are out, especially if they are going to be out later than planned. And they must always answer any call or text from a parent.

Social Skills

Managing Time

Time management is a critical skill that will benefit your kids throughout their lives. As students, it’s a major component in them keeping up with schoolwork and chores – a requirement that should be included in your technology/media rules and expectations. Teach your kids the following steps and have them practice:

  • List all tasks for a particular day or week.
  • Estimate the time needed to complete each task.
  • Plan for delays, setbacks and problems.
  • Implement a daily schedule that includes planned tasks.
  • Evaluate your time-management plan for effectiveness.

Coming up in Issue 3

Keeping Kids Safe Online


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Making Decisions

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