The Contract You Should Have With Your Kids

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This is my favorite week of the year.  The week where you can take a breath and relax a little between holidays, plan and strategize for the next year, and spend some time with your kids before they go back to school.  No more last minute shopping or runs to the grocery store on Christmas Eve (while the over is preheating) for the one item you forgot despite the 2 hour trip dodging crowds and standing in a long line to check out with an overflowing cart. No more late night gift wrapping, checking to make sure you have everything for everyone on your list.  And, while it will roll around again in the blink of an eye next year, at least for a moment, you can breath and enjoy a little weight off your shoulders.

Here’s what else I love about this week.

It’s the perfect time to circle back to the tech gadgets your kids got for Christmas and set up clear guidelines and expectations. There is no homework to interfere with the conversations- you can command full attention.  Some of you may have even wrapped up “contracts” with those gadgets that established the family rules as soon as the gift was opened.  Kudos to you!

If you don’t make it clear right now EXACTLY what your expectations are for this new world of tech opportunity you have put into their young hands, you’re going to set yourself up for bigger battles when you have to address big mistakes.

I found something that will  make this very easy for you: The Contract

This year at the Digital Citizenship Summit, I had the pleasure of meeting Janell Burley Hofmann, the author of iRules.  Janell created a contract for her older son when he turned 13 and received his first phone.  This year, her second son received a phone for Christmas…along with a very loving and clear contract attached to it’s use.  I’ve attached the link to it below, and I urge you to read it, and even use it for the tech your kids received this holiday season.

Beautifully written, this contract does a terrific job of reminding Brendan that the phone is a privilege…

This phone is a privilege, not a right – need and want are very different things. I gave it and I can take it away. It really is that simple.

…And it isn’t meant to replace all human interaction…

I did not increase my monthly expenses for you to have unlimited access to sex, violence and the endless rabbit hole of searching and scrolling. Go on: Get up. Go out. Make good use of your time. It’s a life skill.

…Do not be tempted to say something online that you wouldn’t say in person…

What you text, post and share is YOU. Make sure your online and offline personalities match. The screen does not excuse mean. You do it, you’ve got to own it.

…And, my personal favorite, it should be viewed as an opportunity first and foremost to connect with causes, creations and communities that can enrich your life and help you achieve your goals.

Express yourself and embrace the access to information. Find causes and creations and communities that bring you closer to all the things you love and let curiosity lead you to all of the interests that are yet to be.

Brendan’s iRules Contract

Happy New Year, everyone.