Having an effective family agreement is about building a positive relationship with your child. It ensures that technology can be enjoyed in a safe and mutually acceptable manner.
Young people understand that they are responsible for their behaviour online. As such, the agreement should include consequences for unsafe or unacceptable use of technology. Discuss with your child what they think are reasonable consequences of the agreement being broken. The most effective agreements are those where mutual decisions are made, in negotiation with your child. About 40% of children do not report to an adult if they were being cyber bullied, often in fear of having the technology removed from them. Of those who did tell an adult about the problem, 45% reported the problem stayed the same or got worse ! This is an important consideration when discussing consequences with your child. Make sure to first discuss any actions you would like to take with your child, and listen to any concerns they may have.
Whilst it is important to discuss all technologies with your children, the final agreement needs to be clear, simple, concise and manageable.
As a parent or carer you have a responsibility to assist your child to be safe and confident when using technology. You will see that there is a space in the Our Family Agreement master document that encourages you to talk with your child about how you will support them in their use of technology. Consider revisiting your family agreement annually. As your children grow their interests will change, as well as the technologies they use. This will impact what is important to include in a family agreement.
When negotiating a family agreement, the most important consideration is that it works for your family. Spending time to talk as a whole family about how and why being safe online is important. Your children need to understand why it is necessary to have a family agreement.
Make it clear to your child that your main concern is helping them stay safe. If mistakes happen, it is important they feel able to approach you.
- Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. 2009. Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS). Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth.