Moms Columns & Blogs

5 Tips for a digital family contract

By Angela Hill

The Oakland Tribune

As the digital frontier expands, many parenting experts suggest developing parent-child agreements -- actually written and signed documents -- to set boundaries for online and smart phone use.

Amy Lupold Bair blogs about 21st-century family issues at and is the author of "Raising Digital Families for Dummies." In a recent interview, she offers some tips on writing up family contracts with age-appropriate rules, setting up limits on screen time and texting and more:

1. "Broadly, I recommend using the following age categories: birth to preschool (kids can operate a touchscreen before they can walk!), young elementary, tweens, and teenagers. While only you can judge your child's individual maturity level, in general, a younger age should indicate the need for more supervision and restriction."

2. "Your kids may grumble and make you feel like the bad guy, but stick to your guns. And make sure to share your screen time rules with grandparents, the parents of your kids' friends, babysitters, and so on."

3. "As phones become smarter, you also need to think about apps, texting, data usage, phone cameras, GPS and location services. Which features are you comfortable with your kids using? Be sure to check whether your child's phone's software comes with parental controls or allows you to disable certain functions."

4. "Internet rules should cover e-mail, credit card requests,search engine use, approved and banned sites, and rules for social media and chat. Especially if you have younger children who may not understand the guidelines and restrictions you want them to follow, it's worth your time (and perhaps money) to learn about setting filters and parental controls.

5. "Whatever consequences you choose, be sure to communicate them at the same time that the policy is created. I strongly recommend creating a no-tolerance policy on dangerous behaviors, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and texting while driving."

(c)2013 The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.)

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