The internet is used for WAY more than just games (obviously), and our kids will want to make use of the rest of the internet as well. The internet is also a pretty scary place for our kids if they are allowed unfettered access. We need to encourage our kids to develop healthy behaviors. Unfortunately, that means setting limits on what they can access, what they can do when they get there, etc.
Any parent will tell you that one of the hardest parts of our job is setting boundaries on our kids and the disappointment we feel when they break through those boundaries and ignore our rules.
It’s really impossible to get things right all the time. They will explore. They will push limits. They will make mistakes. But, we CAN get things off on the right foot.
One way to improve your success rate at getting your kids to help follow internet guidelines is to get buy-in from them right from the get-go. Below are six things to think about while writing up an internet usage contract with your kids.
Get Input From Your Kids
Most kids have at least some idea of what the limits should be. Give them a chance to set their own boundaries and they will be more likely to follow them. Remember, though, that your gathering input from them. You don’t need to let them write the rules entirely. You are the final arbiter of the plan.
What are the rules for where and when they use electronic devices?
There is a time and a place for everything. This applies to internet usage as well. You should be sure to set clear rules for where and when they can access the internet. Some great examples of places you might exclude are their bedrooms, school, church, and the dinner table. You might also place restrictions on the internet after a specific time of day. (Don’t forget to include a start time, too. Our guys skirted the rules by getting up early to watch YouTube.)
Are there different rules for online gaming and social media?
Not all internet use is the same. Make sure that you take the different ways that your kids use the internet into account when making your rules. No fooling – some kids will not view playing online games as “internet time” when it very clearly is. Specificity is very helpful for avoiding problems down the road.
What are the rules about downloading apps and other things from the internet?
There are all sorts of cool things on the internet to download. Your kid is likely going to want all of them. Especially the free stuff. Make sure to include rules on what they are allowed to download and what sort of permission they need to be able to do so. The last thing you want is to have them download some malware that you don’t know about.
What are your rules about posting on the internet?
Eventually, your kids will have social media accounts. This contract is a great opportunity to reinforce social media safety rules regarding what pieces of information your kids can share with others or post on their profiles.
True story. I put my address on the BBS when I was a teenager (That’s weird kind of online chat room). And some of the kids I met on their came to my house to meet me… and freaked my parents out A LOT.
What are the consequences if they break the rules?
No amount of discussion or planning will prevent them from breaking the agreement. You need to make sure that you have clearly documented consequences in place for when this happens. This will ease the sting of administering the punishment (on both of you).
What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
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