The Household Rules for Technology

Technology can feel overwhelming.  Every day, new devices and apps arrive, while social media trends change from one format to the next.  It’s hard to know whether we keep our children safe with the growing number of online threats, predators, and fears of Internet addiction.  Do you have an established set of rules for the household?  Deciding upon the expectations of the home can help everyone, dads and moms, too, reach an understanding about imposing less stress, conflict, verbal opposition, and how to obtain the goal of a happy home! 

Children’s Technology Rules Request 

Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington questioned 249 families with children between the ages of 10 and 17 to explore their expectations for parents’ technology use and household rules.  The result shed astounding information into a child’s perceptions and opinions!  The survey’s feedback was compiled in seven categories. 

  1. Children would like to talk to their parents without the distraction of technology.  
  2. Children agree rules are for their protection and safety. 
  3. Children feel they can be responsible for handling technology usage and decision-making.  
  4. Children want to approve posts and pictures about themselves. 
  5. Children feel parents need to balance their own screen time rather than making it a primary activity. 
  6. Children disapprove when parents text and drive and check messages at stoplights. 
  7. Children want household rules for everyone in the home, which means “no hypocrisy.’’

Collectively, children expressed a willingness to abide by rules when they applied to everyone.  

The Family Meeting 

Inviting everyone to the living room for a conversation opens the door to invite questions, explain ideas, and determine rules as a family.  While households have verbal guidelines, sometimes parents have a hard time abiding by their own rules.  To ensure a clear understanding by everyone present, consider documenting each expectation in writing; therefore, ask a member in the circle to act as a secretary and take notes.  Remember, it’s not a lecture.  Children, too, want a healthy family, and they understand, despite the grumbling, that rules are in place to protect each member of the household. Use statistics concerning online predators, internet addiction, or news stories involving a house break-in due to a post identifying a teen who was home alone, or a family leaving for a week-long vacation. 

Topics and questions to discuss:

  1. What annoying habits occur because of prolonged technology usage?   
  2. Is screen-time more important than family time, especially at the dinner table? 
  3. Does technology impact certain obligations, like homework or chores? 
  4. Why is shutting down optimal at night or when a person is left in the kitchen at bedtime? 
  5. Are any games, apps, or sites banned? 
  6. Establishing specific rules about online behavior. 
  7. Creating rules about posts and pictures relating to home security. 
  8. Settings on technology need to be for “friends” only and include Dad & Mom as “friends.”

Family Security 

Most children feel parents have created safety measures; therefore, they are “risk-free” from potential online dangers.  This mindset can invoke a false sense of security, especially with strangers.  It’s vital families openly discuss the rules concerning personal details or private family information on social media.  

Rules should include: 

  • avoiding conversations about the home’s security system, including cameras, keypads, or pet doors.  Predators are looking for information to use to enter a home.  In addition, most break-ins occur not necessarily at night, but during the day. 
  • waiting until the family returns to post the announcement and pictures of a trip or vacation.  
  • posting the home address or phone number online or through private messaging, especially to an unknown person.  Check settings frequently to ensure vital information remains confidential! 
  • defining what constitutes privacy.  Perhaps it’s an heirloom, a valuable object, specific possession, or training.  Everyone in the household can discuss what remains a family matter.  

Start treating social media like the family home.  Sometimes, you lock the doors, turn off the lights, and close the curtains.  You certainly don’t allow a third party to determine your “settings.”  

Families are well aware this is the era of technology.  Parents are hugs and real conversations, not likes and emoji hearts.  The balance can be achieved through conversation, rules, and the promise to abide by them!  

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