Monday, May 9, 2016

Technology contract

As Mr 13 has started high school and became even more entrenched in technology, it was time to write down some of the principles and ideas we want him to think about and adopt.

So we developed a technology contract (see below).  Mr 13, Husband and I have all had input and it has already gone through a few revisions.  It will be revisited at least annually, if not more often.

We could also have added in bible verses to back up the points, but I was trying to keep it manageable (it's already 2 pages) and just because it's not written down doesn't mean it wasn't talked about!

It has been a good opportunity to stop and think about what we expect, and what we want him to learn, and how to teach it.  There are always new things to consider in parenting!

It has also been a prompt to remind Miss 11 and Miss 8 about our expectations, seeing one has started a private blog and both are on email.  They now also have much simpler versions.

Please note: this also does not yet include specific references to social media, our children are not yet using them. It may need updating with more specific principles at that point too.


Congratulations Mr 13 – you now have a phone and a laptop to use!

  1. We own the phone and the laptop – we paid for them!
  2. We will pay for you to be able to use the phone, to a certain amount. You may have to pay any excess.
  3. If they are damaged or lost, you may be required to replace it.
  4. We will know your passwords at all times.  Your sisters need to always know your phone password, because there are times they will need a phone.
  5. You will always answer a call or text from us, as soon as you can. Never ignore us trying to contact you.  We will always try to answer your calls or texts as soon as we can.
  6. Check with us before buying or downloading any music or apps.
  7. If anything on a screen worries you or is inappropriate (eg. messages, pictures, websites) come and talk to us. You will not be in trouble.
  8. All screens will be downstairs overnight, charging if needed.
  9. “Find my iPhone” will always be activated on your iPhone, don’t ever disable it.
  10. If you are out on your own, we expect you to always have the phone on you and for it always to have enough credit for phonecalls.
  11. No games midweek – for schooldays, it is just a phone/laptop. You can play games on the bus, as long as you prioritise real conversations first.


Technology is pretty cool. Your laptop has lots of power for creativity and design, and your phone is a smart phone. They can be used for many, many things – music, videos, phonecalls, texts, email, games, etc.
Above all – always remember 2 things:
  • Real life is better than the digital world – enjoy the real world, real conversations and real people.
  • Words and pictures have power. Be kind, honest and respectful with both.

Loving and Respecting Others
  1. Always speak politely and with respect when on the phone.
  2. Only call people between 8am and 8:30pm. Remember their own families and privacy. If you wouldn’t call their parents at that time, don’t call them.
  3. Meal times, family times or overnight are screen-free, as are the movies, at church, when in conversation with friends, or where it would be rude or inappropriate.
  4. Follow school rules regarding technology.
  5. It is easy to write unwise or unkind things – stop and think before you press send.
  6. Reply to text messages and emails when appropriate. Even just saying ‘thanks’ or ‘OK’ lets people know you have received it.
  7. Respect other people’s privacy – do not give out their details without permission, do not forward emails/texts that are intended to be personal.

Be Wise and Careful
  1. It is very easy to waste time on a screen– be careful how you use your time
  2. Make sure you control your technology and that it does not control you
    • You don’t have to answer a call straightaway (except from us – as soon as possible)
    • You don’t have to respond to a text straightaway (except from us – as soon as possible)
    • You don’t have to reply to an email straightaway – although it’s polite to answer emails that need answering within a day or two.
    • Most replies can wait till the end of the conversation, or the end of the school day, or even until the next day
    • Some messages never need to be answered or even read– eg. junk, spam, various requests (lost property, surveys) through school email.
  3. You don’t have to give out your phone number or email to any person / company. You have a choice. If you feel pressured to, try and say no, or give one of Mum or Dad’s numbers/emails.
  4. Remember – every thing you ever do or put online can be recorded forever. This includes emails, posts, tweets, photos, texts, comments, game statistics, web site browsing and time usage. All words and pictures online may be there forever: “only say it or post it if you want the entire world to have access to your message or picture for all time” (David A. Bednar). So, think very carefully how you use technology.
“The caution that marks our speech must also mark our texting, our emailing, our commenting, our blogging and our tweeting. The fact that we communicate at all should cause us to stop and consider every word. The fact that we communicate so often today and do so before so great an audience should cause us to tremble. As we communicate all day we give ourselves unending opportunity to sin with our words.” (Challies)
  1. Only say things on email that you would say in person (to their face)
  2. Only say things on email or online that you would say out loud with Mum and Dad in the room (or their parents).
  3. Never take photos of yourself without clothes on (one day you may think this sounds fun, or someone might ask you to). Always delete any photos of others like this that you might receive. Never forward photos like this on to others.
  4. Don’t look at inappropriate photos or videos on any device, and don’t share inappropriate photos or videos of yourself with others. If you encounter something inappropriate, delete it, or close it, whatever it takes. Just as importantly, make a mental note of the path that led to it to help you avoid it in the future.
Isn’t it cool to be growing up and getting more fun stuff! We love you and we trust you to be responsible and wise. We also know you’ll make mistakes and we will still love you and forgive you. There may be times that your technology will be taken away. There may be times when you lose it. We will work it out together.

Use all technology to glorify God and serve him and his people. Sometimes this will mean using technology wisely. Sometimes it will mean not using it at all. The rest of your life (and ours) will be spent figuring out how to do this well. We love you very much.

[Signed by all three of us]


Chris said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's encouraging to see you safeguard, guide and encourage your child to use technology in a godly way. Besides 'Cyber Parenting' do you have any good resources/ sermons you could recommend for parents trying to understand technology and its place in the home? Ta.

Wendy said...

Thanks Chris!

As for other resources that talk about technology, etc, nothing comes to mind. Cyber Parenting was very good, so if you haven't read that, it's worth it. The other way is probably just talk to other parents who are also navigating their way on this one - everyone of our parenting generation is figuring this out for the first time. I try to go to seminars on things like this when they are available through churches/conferences, but that assumes you are in an area where that is possible!

Sorry - not to have much else to recommend!

Anonymous said...

HI Wendy this is great. We did discuss each of these points and in an ongoing way with our kids but a formal contract is a good idea. Things change so fast it's something that needs to be continually revised!

Tamie said...

Hi Wendy

Can you explain a bit more about how the contract is used? What happens if it's broken?

Wendy said...

Hi Tamie,

It’s a contract in the loosest form of the word. That is, it’s more a mutual understanding and statement of expectation. It enabled us to explicitly think through our expectations, communicate them, and all have input into it. Having it written down and then discussed made it clearer and defined some details for all of us. It’s only signed because one child wanted it to do so, so we thought why not, and it indicated we were all serious about it & agreed to it.

If expectations are not met on either side, it’s always a discussion first. As we allude to at the end, there will be times they lose access or times we restrict access. Or we reconsider what we originally said. It’s an acknowledgement we are all entering new territory here and we don't have all the answers or always know the right way forward.

I do sit down with each of them from time to time and go through their emails, texts, general online communication and check it is appropriate, respectful and helpful.

We are on a learning curve here as much as they are!