What Is a Family Media Agreement and How to Create One?Jan 17, 2023
A family media agreement is an agreed family plan about how you, as a family, will deal with computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, e-readers and any other digital devices that are in your family’s life.
This type of agreement may also be referred to as a family tech plan, a technology agreement, or a phone contract. Whatever title you use, this agreement is a useful tool for holding you and your children accountable when it comes to your use of tech devices.
What to Consider Before Writing Your Family Media Plan
Before you create a media agreement for you and your family, why not use a screentime log to chart out where your children need the most support? Think of it like tracking your
food intake to notice problem-snacking before you begin to change your eating habits. Tracking your screen usage can also help you identify problem areas that you need to tackle in the family media agreement.
Be sure to acknowledge and respect your tweens and teens “privilege” to use technology. I say privilege, rather than “right” to encourage responsible digital citizenship.
Understand that electronic toys and online activities are very, very attractive to tweens and teens. Your kids may need some additional help and guidance to understand this and to help them disengage from these types of devices and activities.
Social media has benefits such as social learning, self-esteem, fitting in, and networking. But it must be handled correctly to achieve these benefits and mitigate the potential downsides to social media use. Help your children to understand that their online presence can be a fantastic opportunity to start building the online identity that they want future employers or future schools to see.
What to Include in Your Family Media Agreement
The agreement that you create for how you and your kids will use the tech in your lives should be tailored to your needs as a family. However, there are some key areas that you’ll likely want to cover in your plan.
Screentime limits and “no device time”
It’s important to know what the recommended screentime is for your child (based on their age) and to work this into the agreement. As well as limits on their total time using a device, you may also want to consider times when they’re not allowed to use their tech (such as during mealtimes, in their rooms, or before bedtime).
What content they’re allowed to access
Unfortunately, as a parent, you can’t totally rely on parental controls and permissions to prevent your kids from accessing content that’s not age-appropriate (although it’s still important to use these controls).
You should discuss with your children the types of content that are suitable for them to access and what is considered age appropriate. Document this in your agreement accordingly.
Privacy and sharing
A lot of the content, apps, and platforms that your kids will be wanting to access will likely require some sort of user account to be created. It’s important to understand what data will be collected and stored about your children and give them clear guidance about what they should and shouldn’t be providing.
As well as this, certain platforms and/ or other users may encourage them to share details and content of (or about) themselves. Make sure your plan covers what is and isn’t allowed to be shared online.
Consequences if the agreement is broken
An agreement is only going to be useful if it’s respected. Providing clear expectations and consequences about what will happen if the plan isn’t followed will help everyone to stick to it and benefit from it.
Making Sure the Agreement Continues to Work for Your Family
Don’t be afraid to modify the agreement as your children out grow certain limits and restrictions. The agreement is bespoke to you and your family so it’s ok to adapt it to your evolving needs.
Be prepared to listen, advise, and find creative solutions with your kids. If they’re going to stick to the plan, it’s important to listen to their input and make them feel part of creating it.
When your children are online, the media agreement should aim to cultivate their digital skills, foster online learning, and boost their social and emotional learning. Try to keep this in mind when you’re drawing up your plan and don’t make it all about the restrictions.
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