Social media and electronics guidelines for teens

With the holidays coming up many teens and kids are hoping to find a brand new tablet or smartphone under their tree on Christmas morning.  While these things are great fun, and very helpful at times, they also create a big headache for parents to teach their kids how to handle electronics and social media.  This is new territory for us as parents.  Portable electronics, the internet and social media has grown up with us, so we got to slowly acculturate them into our daily lives.  Our kids however are growing up in a world where social media and portable electronics are established, so they have to learn how to interact with them responsibly, just as a toddler has to learn to communicate responsibly.  To that end I decided to post the contract we recently established with our children regarding smart phone use.  Please feel free to copy it and modify it to your families use if you find it helpful:

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What follows is a contract between you and us (your parents) for cell phone, computer and social media use.  The idea is not to limit your use or fun of these devices, but to help teach you how to use them responsibly, and for your benefit and the benefit of those around you.  Having a cell phone can be a wonderful thing, but remember these biblical principles as you interact with others and view media:

Galatians 5:22&23 – The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

If you follow the instruction of those two passages when monitoring your own use on these devices you won’t have to worry about any of the rules below.

  1. You will not post, text, e-mail or otherwise communicate with others messages, pictures or videos that are demeaning, insulting or otherwise tear down yourself or others.
  2. You will not view media (websites, videos, pictures, video games or music) that is explicit in content.  This especially applies to media that is sexual in nature.
  3. We will monitor your texts, e-mails, browsing history and social media usage.  To this end, we will put an app on your phone and on the computer that tracks your usage.   Likewise, do not delete texts until after we have seen them, and your parents should be your friends on relevant social media sites.
  4. Do not bury your nose in your cell phone while you are spending time with family or friends.  Be courteous – not anti-social.  If you get a call or text that you need to check or answer communicate that to the people you are with, otherwise, keep it in your pocket.
  5. Always answer your phone if you are available (ie not in class, working, in church etc.).  This goes double when it is a parent or grandparent trying to get a hold of you.
  6. We have __ gb of data per month for __ family members.  That means you get __ gb per month for your use.  If you go over __ gb in a month, and our family goes over the __ gb limit, you will be responsible for paying for for your extra usage that month.
  7. If you break your phone you will be financially responsible for replacing or fixing the phone.  If you would like to purchase a protection plan for the phone you will be responsible for that monthly fee.
  8. Your phone will be on the charger in the kitchen by 9:30 every night on school nights and 10:00 every night on Friday nights, Saturday nights and summer nights.  It will stay on the charger until at least 6am the next morning.  Your phone needs sleep too.  This will be strictly enforced.
  9. For minor violations of aforementioned contract we will take your phone, and you may have it back the next morning.  For medium violations we will take your phone for a week, and for more severe violations we will take your phone for a time to be determined by us.
  10. This contract may be updated by us at any time.  We will notify you of any changes as they occur and discuss why we are making the change.  Likewise you may request changes for us to discuss at any time.

We love you, and we love the responsible young adult you are and are becoming.  You will make mistakes as you learn how to navigate these devices, and that’s ok, we will still love you.

We, agree to the terms and conditions of this agreement

Signature:_______________________________________________Date____________________