Creative Child

Why a Family Tech Contract Will Benefit Everyone

by Deborah Song

Technology presents challenges for today’s kids that parents never had to deal with while they were growing up. Charting this unfamiliar territory can be bewildering for parents, especially on the heels of the Momo Challenge and other violent content that’s being disturbingly targeted for kids. It’s not always clear how to create boundaries when it comes to YouTube and other forms of screen time.

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Creating a tech contract for the entire family is a very effective way to establish a clear understanding of household boundaries and expectations by eliminating surprises and helping family members hold each other accountable. Clear guidelines can also alleviate anxiety for kids who may find themselves pulled into watching things they didn’t initially want to watch or find themselves sliding down a rabbit hole of unhealthy habits.


“iRules will allow you and your family to build healthy relationships with the technology used inside and outside your home,” says Janell Burley Hoffman, author of iRules: What Every Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming and Growing Up.

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The author advises that you think about your child before creating a tech contract or iRules, as she dubbed it. Think about your child’s age, interests, tendencies, personality traits and struggles. It may even be a good idea to spend some tech time with your kids. See what they enjoy watching, what they dislike or even what scares them. This will help you brainstorm what needs to be addressed. She also recommends bringing everyone who parents your child on board, whether it be a nanny, babysitter or grandparents.


A good family tech contract should also go both ways.  If there is a no screen-time rule while eating, kids should be able to call out parents who remain glued to their phones during dinnertime. Having all members of the family observe the contract will help solidify its effectiveness.


For each type of technology, whether it’s the iPad or phone, present guidelines by including time limits, etiquette, and other expectations. Formalizing your expectations for tech use can make tech work for your family and not be at its mercy. Moreover, keeping the tech communication open and regular is a great practice to set in place for when kids become older and begin exploring social media or for the day when they come into possession of their own phones.

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