Sitting down together and drafting a phone contract is the best way for families to share values and expectation around appropriate online behavior. Most digital parenting organizations have their own phone contract template (including me). If you have not found the right one for your family, I have a fantastic digital tool that may help.
Smart Talk is a free digital tool developed by LifeLock and the National PTA. The purpose of this of this tool is to help families create a phone contract for their child. While building the contract, parents will find prompts and questions to talk with their child about security, privacy, time limits and other important topics. After going through all the questions, families can print out their custom-built contract.
According to a recent survey by LifeLock, the majority of children receive their first smart phone between the ages of 8 and 12. While 79 percent of families have technology agreements with their children, only 6 percent of those are written. While this is fantastic that parents have a technology agreement, parents should take the time to write it down.
One day, I asked my kids about our family rules for internet safety. They all replied that we had no rules. Given that internet safety was a frequent topic in our house, I was a bit confused by their response. According to them, talk is talk and a rule is in writing. Since then, we take the time to sit together and write out the contract. When I have to refer to it or anyone has a question, we can grab it and go through it.
How Smart Talk Works
Smart Talk provides an interactive experience that guides kids and parents through a series of questions and conversations. Families start by choosing the areas they wish to include in their contract. Depending on their child’s age and device, they can choose from safety and privacy, screen time, social media, apps and downloads, texting and calling, reputation and respect, and online videos and cameras.
After choosing topics, families go through a series of questions and rules together. If parents are unsure of what to include Smart Talk provides additional information on each topic. For those overachievers, it has suggestions for a bonus talk and extra credit.
After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be printed and posted at home. With the interactive screens, families will find they can cover a lot of ground in short amount of time. As their child grows, they can revise and update the contract.