Our middle school daughter just received her first phone. I searched across many awesome websites to find a cell-phone contract that I wanted to use. In the end, I decided to create our own family cell phone and technology use contract, drawing on my own expertise in the area of digital citizenship as well as the expertise and suggestions of others. At the bottom of this post, I've named the sources that I used as a reference in creating this contract. I've had so many people ask for a copy of our contract that I decided to create a printable document out of it. Feel free to take it as is, or modify it to best suit your own family's needs!
Family Cell Phone Contract and Technology Use Policy
Created By: www.carriegoldmanauthor.com
1. The goal of this contract is to create a cell-phone and technology use policy that meets the needs of you, our amazing child, while also meeting the needs of: our family; your school; and the global community in which we live.
2. Your possession of this phone and any digital device is a privilege, not a right. You may not ignore calls/texts from us. If you are unable to answer, you must respond to us at the first reasonable opportunity.
3. We will always know the password for this phone and any apps downloaded onto this phone or other digital devices.
4. You will not have access to our password to iTunes. If there is an app you would like - whether free or for purchase - you must first request our permission.
5. When you are at home with us, you may have hour(s) on school days and hour(s) on weekend days to enjoy browsing/texting/playing on your phone/digital devices. We like being with you, and we want to make sure that you don't constantly disappear into the world of screens.
6. You will not text, post, or take photos with this phone or any digital device while you are driving a car.
7. You will return the phone or digital device to a parent or guardian at p.m. every school night and at p.m. every weekend night.
8. Your allotted phone/screen time will not begin on school mornings until after you are fully ready for school with your bag packed.
9. After school, you will turn in your phone or digital device until your homework has been completed.
10. Do not take photos or videos of other people and post/share without their permission.
11. Do not photograph or share inappropriate or naked images of yourself or other people. If something happens, you can always ask us for help. Coming to a trusted adult for assistance will never make your situation worse.
12. If you have a conflict with someone, call the other person and talk about the conflict in a live conversation. Texting, email or messaging can often escalate problems.
13. When using technology, remember to pause before you publish. You may not use the phone or any other form of technology to defame, slander, hurt, humiliate, ostracize, retaliate against, intimidate, bully or punish another person.
14. When you make a mistake with the phone or digital device, you will take steps to restore any harm that has occurred. We will take your restorative response into consideration while determining consequences. We understand how important digital technology is to your life, and we will always try to make consequences commensurate with the violation -- no more, no less. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and take accountability.
15. You have a right to privacy, but you must understand that there is no such thing as digital privacy. If there is anything private you want to say to someone, you can tell it directly to that person in a live conversation.
16. You may not lie about your age to join social networking sites, even if your friends are doing it. Every family has different rules. These are ours. If you are old enough to join social networking sites, we will have the passwords to your accounts. We will not look at your accounts unless we have reason to be concerned.
17. If something happens to your phone or digital device, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs, even if a friend was using it when it broke.
18. Do not use your phone or digital device at mealtimes or while having a conversation with someone. We expect eye contact during face-to-face discussions. If any adult asks you to stop talking or texting, you will do so immediately.
19. If you rack up extra data charges or exceed the allotted minutes and messages, you are responsible for the charges.
20. What happens online impacts your life offline. Colleges and future employers can and will search your name, and the Internet never forgets. Slow down and think before posting.
21. Kids do amazing things every day online. You and your friends are intelligent, creative, awesome people. Be sure to show us all the great things you do! We want to see what you build, create, design, produce and inspire. We love you every day in every way.
Signed & Dated:
Resources used in creating this contract: Connect Safely, Tween Us, Cyberbullying Research Center, Media! Tech! Parenting!
Carrie is the award-winning author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fearhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/0062105086/ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=harpercollinsus-20 (Harper Collins, 2012).