Striking a balance between family time and screen time during the summer holidays can be a challenge for parents. Being proactive and prepared to deal with the pushback from family members, adults and children is key to a stress free holiday period. One effective way to do this is to develop a media agreement with all family members involved.
Family media agreements are established rules and guidelines that help parents mediate internet and device use. It is a great way for parents to begin conversations with their children about internet safety and to decide on and communicate consequences from the start so there are no misunderstandings in the future.
What Is Included In A Family Media Agreement?
Family media agreements are unique to each family, and sometimes each family member. This is because no two families are alike and the age of family members plays a big role in terms of what is included in a media agreement.
Your family media agreement may encompass any digital technology you choose, from computers, laptops and video games to tablets and mobile phones.
Be Web Smart suggests some behaviours that might be included in a media agreement. It includes:
- How many hours a day can be spent using a computer, tablet, or playing video games?
- Are social media sites allowed – which ones?
- Are mobile devices allowed in bedrooms overnight?
- Are any particular websites off-limits?
- What information can be or shouldn’t be shared online?
- What should your child do if they encounter something scary online?
- What happens if they break the rules?
It is important to note that the creation of a media agreement is not a ‘one-off’ event. Australia’s parenting website Raising Children Network promotes the idea that “rules will change as your children develop and your family’s situation changes. As children get older, for example, rules about privacy might become more important.” Because of this, it is important to revise your family’s media agreement on a regular basis.
The most important aspect of creating a media agreement is to talk ‘with’ and not ‘to’ your children. This reassures them that their views and ideas are valued and that you will not impose rules that may seem unreasonable.
Finding resources to help you develop the media agreement range from age-appropriate templates such as those provided by Common Sense Media or an interactive one such as The Smart Talk, which is a collaboration between the National Parent Teacher Association and LifeLock which aims to get “parents and kids together for a conversation about being responsible with new technologies.”