Big birthday this year! Our daughter got an iPod Touch and was SO excited. Wide eyed, mouth opened, body shaking excited. We realized right away that, although this is a good tool for her to use, it could quickly become an addiction. And then there's the whole safety issue. What can we put in place to make sure she's not seeing or reading things she shouldn't or forming questionable relationships in her youthful innocence?
My brother's girlfriend gave us the idea of a contract that we could have her sign regarding usage time, where she uses it, who she can talk to, what places she can visit, etc. We thought that was a good idea, but wondered what to include. I definitely knew we wouldn't let her keep the iPod in her room at night; she would turn it in before bed and we would charge it for her. But beyond that we weren't sure where to start, so we asked...what would you include in a Device Contract? And boy did we get answers. So many calls, texts, and Facebook posts with incredible advice! Of course, we won't use it all, but we have a lot of incredible suggestions to choose from.
Maybe you're in the same place as us right now and could use some advice. Well, here you go:
Advice on a Device Contract FROM THE WCIC LISTENING FAMILY
Kim in Bloomington: One piece of advice that was given to me in regards to technology was to refer to devices, whether a phone, tablet, computer, as "family" devices as opposed to "your phone" or "your tablet". That way it's not so secretive and personalized...they're just using it for the time being.
Pat in Springfield: If they don't do what they are told, take the device away.
Seena in Springfield: No devices during meal times.
Heather from Bloomington: I would add - always ask before adding an app and always be aware of any in-app conversation she's having.
Denise in El Paso: One half hour before bed she gives it to you. That gives her wind down time for family or herself bedfore she climbs into bed.
Becci from Pekin: The device must be turned over to me at a moment's notice. Sometimes they believe they could just download something and then delete it before I got it for the night, but if they thought at any time I could ask for it, it helped keep things in check.
Ryan in Pekin: All apps are approved first, and then only downloaded by my wife. Internet is locked out on phones.
Colsen in Heyworth: Put time limits on how long your child can be on a certain device.
Tina: No phone calls made from an app on an iPod - her daughter somehow made a $75 call to India. YIKES!
Stephanie: Every child is required to read one book or for a certain amount of time before device time. They also have to spend time outside.
Mitch in Bloomington: No devices on Sunday - for everyone in the family. Take time to unplug.
Cindy in New Berlin: On any social media platform, the child must friend Mom and Dad so they can be aware of what's being posted.
Scott in Springfield: Parents know every password or code. And parents must be made aware of any chat rooms inside any apps and have access to read the conversations if there's any notion of dangerous, ugly, or mean things being said.
Aubry in Springfield: NO Social Media apps at all! Just cut it off at the head.
Buffy in Springfield: Grades have to stay at a certain level and chores must always be done to satisfaction. (And how about without nagging?) Also, parents need to get up to date on texting lingo and abbreviations for when they do check texts and chats.
Jenny: They can't be on their devices in their bedrooms. They must always be in a common area when on devices.
Brittany: When someone is speaking to you, put the phone down and look them in the eye.
Liz in Normal: For social media, we've followed the guidelines from the outlets (i.e. Facebook says you have to be at least 13, so do we). And if you aren't friends in person with someone, you can't be friends with them on social media.
Traci in Towanda: My 9 year old is only allowed to visit websites and play games we've pre-approved. We're lucky he's a rule-follower, but I still check the history occasionally to be sure.
Jenny in North Pekin: There's a password that they don't know that must be entered for them to download any apps. This way we have to approve anything that goes on the device. We've had some good conversations on why something is not appropriate.
Ben in Pekin: Our daughter's 2DS has to be charged in a common area of the house, not in her room, and when not in use it has to be on the charger. Also, she has to ask before playing and we control that time.That means if it's missing and we didn't give her permission, someone's in trouble.
Angela in Tremont: We have a list posted that says before ASKING to play electronics, they must have read, completed homework/Awanas, made their bed, fed their pets, & hugged a parent.
Beki in Henry: My 15 year old daughter has a phone, so she has to baby sit 2 times a month, for a few hours, so that my husband and I can have the alone time we need and that pays her cell phone bill. I also enforce the "1 charge per day" rule. They charge in my room at night and if they use their battery in that amount of time, then that's it.
Sharon: No devices when you have company!
And here are some parental control devices shared by friends this morning:
Jennifer in Bartonville uses TeenSafe to monitor her kids' locations and the history of the phones’ locations. She says there is a cost, but she feels it's worth it.
Linda in Peoria suggests Circle from Disney. It's a square box that can give each device in your home a bedtime or a time limit. It can also identify websites you don't want your kids seeing. This one's a little pricey, but a great suggestion.
Tia in Jacksonville likes Covenant Eyes. She says it monitors all devices and sends you a weekly report on every site visited - even if it's just a quick click on an ad.
Is there anything you would add to these lists? Or, is there something you WISH you would have put in place with your kids but didn't? Please share so we can learn from your wisdom!