Healthy internet families Part 1: Device management agreement

Healthy device management for healthy families

Part 1: Device management agreement

 

Our lives are undeniably connected to the internet. We have reached a stage where it is almost impossible to operate without it. From emails, instant messaging, map apps, directories, information searching, social media (a luxury rather than a necessity), entertainment, education and pretty much any other necessity of sharing information flows through the internet.

What impact has the dependency had on our lives? How has the internet improved our lives and how has it negatively affected us? How have our behaviours, priorities and values changed? What impact has it had on how we relate to people or ourselves? What social skills have we altered in the digital world? These are all pertinent questions that we need to explore honestly? Probably the most important question though is, “What can we do to find that healthy balance of managing our interface between the real and virtual or electronic worlds that we live in?”

Over the next few blog posts, we will look at a few steps that you can take to develop a healthier internet culture at home.

Establish a culture around device usage by establishing a family device management agreement:

Decide as a family what your home culture will be around usage of devices primarily establishing boundaries of usage. Some helpful topics of discussion should include:

  • Time restrictions: Set a device curfew when everyone turns off their devices. Set time restrictions on certain apps or have a device window when messages can be checked, social media engaged, and games played.
  • Location boundaries: Where are devices allowed and where no? Some ideas that you might restrict are 1) no devices at the dinner table, 2) no devices in the bathroom 3) no devices in the bedroom after a certain time-you might need to decide on a central place where devices are kept at night.
  • Monitoring: This is particularly important for children. Parents should be monitoring what their children are engaged with on their devices. This might include the use of parental/family management settings or a 3rd party app that helps with monitoring web and app activity. Parents should have full access to their children’s devices until they are of an agreed upon age.
  • Passwords and access: Parents should have their children’s passwords for both their devices and login details for relevant apps.

*Access and monitoring is not an invasion of privacy when it is proactive responsible parenting especially with regards to minors.

  • Restrictions on accessibility to content: This may include the use of family management settings or a 3rd party application. The point is to protect against exposure to inappropriate content.

*Please note that your moral and ethical standards may not be shared with the content producer and age restrictions online are merely suggestions. You should still personally discern the nature of the site or app and decide if it is something you will allow in your home.

 

The benefits of such an agreement is that everyone in the family participates in the discussion and agrees to what is decided. Boundaries create safe spaces for families which nourishes relationships and grows healthier engagement. That in turn develops trust and a culture of discipline and self-control around devices. The discussion will in turn be educational for both parents and children as topics will be raised, thoughts and feelings shared and choices made.

 

The big question “WHY?” should be kept in mind when deciding on your family device agreement. Why are we doing this? Why do we need to? “Why” is the question that develops understanding. It establishes a cause and effect which develops responsibility and discernment. Which brings us to the last part of the agreement, the consequences.

 

  • Consequences: What are the consequences for abiding or not with the agreement? Does screentime get cut or added? Is there a reward for discipline and a consequence for lack thereof? Does a device need to be confiscated for a period of time? Do restrictions become imposed, does the WI-Fi get turned off? These consequences are all options but should be decided upon by the family.

We have the internet with all its benefits and dangers and therefore need to be educated and empowered as individuals as well as families as to how we can have a healthy relationship with the internet.

If you need assistance with your family management settings or a 3rd party app, contact us and we can tailor a solution for you.

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