Just in keeping with my title of world’s strictest dad, tonight I printed, talked through and got them to sign their first serious agreements. Yes, there may have been a bit of pressure applied and they probably didn’t get the right to proper legal representation… 😉
I’ve got tired of having the same old debates about why they can’t be online now, or why I may need their passwords. We’ve even had those slightly awkward conversations about over-sharing and sexting. So, we put into place a rudimentary contract that served as both a framework around which we could talk about the various topics and rationale behind each, as well as get a commitment to uphold these expectations. Theoretically, this is an end to all those debates… (yes, I know, but let’s just imagine how good this could be)
Here’s our Device Acceptable Use Policy for our home. Feel free to re-use and re-purpose for your own use, or just to use it to frame a conversation.
Device Acceptable Use Agreement
This is our agreement established, between ______________ (“You“) and ______________ (“I“,”Mum“,”Dad“,”Us“,”We”), for the use of, and respect for, the communication devices that are provided to You, by Us.You will abide by the terms provided herein, for the term of this agreement.
- It is Our device. We bought it. We pay for it. We are loaning it to you.
- We will always know the password, no question.
- If it rings, answer it, say hello, and use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”, ever.
- The device gets switched off and You disconnect promptly at 7:30pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again, no earlier than at 7:30am the next morning. If You would not make a call to someone’s home phone where their parents may answer first, then it is also not appropriate to call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families, like We would like to be respected.
- If it goes to school with You, it is only for communicating with Us and only out of school hours. When at school, have a conversation with the people You text in person. That is a life skill.
- If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, You are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Whatever that cost may be.
- Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others or not want to receive yourself. Be a good friend first, or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
- Do not text, email, or say anything through this device You would not say in person. Cyberspace is not a mask and You will face the consequences sometime, or perhaps the rest of your life.
- No porn, ever. Google and I have ways of knowing.
- Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the device to turn you into one.
- Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts, or anyone else’s private parts. Someday, You will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage and adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than You, and it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation and those pictures.
- Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences and they will be stored in your memory for eternity for You to enjoy.
- Leave your device at home sometimes and feel safe and secure that this is a good decision. It is not alive, nor an extension of You. Learn to live without it, be bigger and more powerful than the fear of missing out.
- Download music that is new, or classic, or different to the millions of your peers that all listen to the same stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
- Use the device to play a game with words, a puzzle, and a brain teaser or learn something every now and then.
- Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around You. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Take time to wonder about things, without Googling.
- You will mess up and I will take away your device. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, are always learning and We are in this together.
- This agreement will continue until You terminate it through the action of permanently leaving Our home or until We chose to terminate it for convenience. At this pointYou are ready for the world and don’t need this agreement anymore. Our job is done.
You: __________________ on ______________
Us: __________________ on ______________
So, am I the worlds strictest dad, ever?
Let me know if you have any other ideas to challenges you have faced.