Things to keep in mind...
Before creating a family contract about your kid’s personal or school-issued device, talk about how the device will be used
at home. Use the suggested guidelines below to help make sure that you and your kid are on the same page. Then use the
customizable form to outline your agreed-upon expectations.
Where, When, and How Long?
• Decide where you’re comfortable having your kid use the device. Can they only use it in family spaces, like a family room or
kitchen? Can they bring it into their bedroom or the bathroom? Can they use it at the dinner table?
• Consider the difference between using a device for homework and using it for entertainment. Your kid’s school may have
specic policies for what a device is to be used for and by whom (e.g., no siblings!).
• Talk about what it means to “balance” time spent with technology, media, and other activities. What are some steps your
family can take to balance screen time with face-to-face time? Do you want to make the dinner table a device-free zone, in
which no family member (not even the adults) may use a cell phone, tablet, or computer? Do you want to set a curfew for
when devices need to be shut off?
• Explain that as the parent or caregiver, part of your job is to guide them. Identify ways to maintain open, honest communication
with your kids about their device.
• Discuss how you’ll monitor the device. Do you want to check up on how they’re using their device? If so, how? Will you ask your
kid to give you access to their emails, texts, IMs? Will you review their search history (which can be deleted) from time to time?
• Talk with your kid about the kinds of apps they’ll be using and accounts they’ll have. Ask them to show you their favorites, as well
as the ones they use most. How do they work? What’s so cool about them? How do these tools support their learning process?
• Practice creating a strong password together. Use at least eight characters, mix letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid
including any private information such as names, addresses, birth dates, etc. Remember to have your child write down
usernames and passwords (as well as their username, if they need one) and keep the information stored in a safe place.
• Discuss the importance of not sharing passwords with others, and decide whether parents should be an exception to the rule.
One idea is to have kids create their own passwords but have them accessible to parents in a sealed envelope for emergencies.
• Review privacy policies and privacy settings together. Make sure your kids understand what private and personal information
companies may or may not be collecting. Decide how public or private an audience you all are comfortable with when it
comes to sharing and posting.
Care & Maintenance
• Discuss what you consider to be responsible care and maintenance of what are often expensive tools. Where will the device
be stored and charged at home? Why is it important to treat the device gently and not toss it or shove it into a backpack?
• Outline the responsibility factor. Discuss what will happen and who’s responsible if the device gets stolen, lost, or broken
even if by accident.
Communicating Responsibly Online
• Talk about the difference between using the device to communicate with classmates for school-related work and using it for
hanging out or goong off with friends. What are the school’s guidelines for appropriate use? How will you enforce similar
expectations at home?
• Discuss your family rules for social networking and messaging – with people they know, sort of know, or don’t know at all.
What does it mean to be respectful to and respected by others? What does that look like? Use this as a springboard for a
discussion about cyberbullying, privacy, and safety.
Customizable Device Contract