Tuesday, February 17, 2015

28 Days of Writing 17 : Rules for using your electronic device

We've just moved into pre teen territory with Mr Miracle and for Christmas, Santa, (Come on Mum, I've heard your opinion on organized religion- do you really expect me to believe in Santa? - Do you believe in happiness and magic Taine? Do you believe in GETTING PRESENTS?), bought him his first phone. The rationale behind this was twofold:

1. He's in year 6 and the ability to communicate independently of us is an important skill to develop, under our guidance and while he still has some semblance of common sense, before he becomes a teenager.
2. I'm a helicopter mother and I like to know where my kid is all the time......

He also has an iPad Air for school (Santa bought this last year before the Christmas cynicism kicked in).

These devices come with rules and I think these rules work well no matter what internet connected device your child has. Feel free to copy or amend them for use in your home.

1.When I text or call you, you will respond ASAP. This is a rule for everyone in our family, no matter their age. Acknowledging contact is good manners and good manners are just as important in the digital space as they are in the face to face world.

2. Charging the device is your responsibility and no, you may not unplug my phone from the charger  to put your device on it!

3. All devices stay in the kitchen after bed time. The greatest risk to kids from their devices comes at night when they are alone. These risks include:

  • They will not get enough sleep because they get involved in whatever's on the screen, ((just one more level!)
  • They will not get enough sleep because other kids (whose parents haven't enforced this rule) will text them at 3am in the morning.
  • Cyber bullying is at it's peak when kids are left alone with the internet. Bullies get really brave behind the keyboard when no one else is watching and their hurtful words seem much crueler when you're alone in your room in the dark.
  • Grooming is rare but it happens. It will happen more easily if your child is alone with a device during the time when their family is asleep but the rest of the world's stalkers are awake.

4. If you abuse the privilege of having a device, I will take it away from you. While you live under my roof, this is my right.

5. The dinner table is a device free zone.

6. I have set an R18 restriction on the iPad. When I'm comfortable with your ability to analyze the worth of media on your own, I will give you the password for it. In the meantime I don't want you frightened by some of the images that may inadvertently appear when you search for fluffy cats or when you misspell words like can't.

7. I am in control of the wifi password in our house. If you abuse the privilege of accessing it, I will change the password. ( This also works well if you haven't done your homework, cleaned your room, etc).

8. I am also in charge of the iTunes password. Since it is connected to my credit card this makes good financial sense but it also allows me to control the content downloaded.

9. We will be open and frank about the conversations you have electronically. If you join a social media site, you will add me as a contact. I promise not to post (too many) embarrassing photos of you so long as I am able to observe your emerging digital footprint. Let me be the conscience on your shoulder until you are mature enough to let your own conscience be your guide.

10.Your father and I promise to enforce all of the above rules because we love you and it's our responsibility to mentor and guide you and keep you safe as you venture into the online world.

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