According to Common Sense Media, an education and advocacy organization that promotes safe technology and media for children, “a healthy media diet balances three things:
- what kids do online,
- how much time they spend doing it,
- and whether their content choices are age-appropriate.”
Let’s face it - we can’t be present every second our children are on an electronic device. The best way to make sure that expectations match real-world experiences is to create a Family Media Agreement. Developing a device contract can be an important catalyst for parents and children to discuss and agree upon what is acceptable in each of the areas above and, more importantly, what is not acceptable.
Common Sense Media offers a great contract template here. The document is set in an affirmative tone, using “I will” statements that are organized into five sections:
- I will take care.
- I will stay safe.
- I will think first.
- I will stay balanced.
- I will communicate openly.
There are suggestions for bulleted points under each subhead. Every family can and should mold and shape the contract to meet individual needs and concerns.
If you have never used a written contract with your children, it may seem like a bit extremel. But as a tool, it is a great way to ensure details are clear and agreed upon and to hold all parties accountable for their compliance. Make it a family activity. Children of all ages can actually enjoy the process of negotiating as it encourages contemplation, input, and taking responsibility for their actions. Be sure that you communicate directly and indirectly, with your words and your actions, that their contributions are important to the process and the outcome.
And if you are still having a hard time selling the idea of a written contract, remind them that it is supported by Islamic guidance. In the Quran, Surah Al-Mai’dah, states:
“O you who believe, fulfill your contracts.”
(Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:1)
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, also emphasized: “The Believers uphold their obligations.”