Most of us deal with contracts in our daily businesses, but few of us have ever thought of using them with our children. While verbal rules are often effective, it is a good idea to have a written contract of what is acceptable online behavior for your child. Consider adopting or formulating an age appropriate Social Media Contract for each child and the devices he or she utilizes. This contract should spell out exactly what is expected of them and make clear any confusion of what will be acceptable. For parents who want a template to go by, we have included an example of a Social Media and Online Safety Contract . For those who want to draft their own, keep in mind these areas to address:
- Privacy Section: This section addresses the issues of what information they must divulge to parents including usernames, passwords, and the like.
- Monitoring: This section includes language about what kind and type of monitoring they can expect.
- Acceptable Apps and Websites: This section would be a list of appropriate apps they are allowed to use or sites they are allowed to visit.
- Acceptable Behavior: This section addresses what their online behavior will be as well as discusses how they will present themselves in conversations they engage in online with peers. This section will also address behaviors such as hiding apps and programs.
- Divulging Personal Information: This extremely important section discusses what they are allowed to include in their personal or about meÂ sections of the app or program in use, what they post, and activities they engage in.
- Stranger Danger: This section details what to do if they are approached online by strangers and who they are allowed to be friends or followers with online.
- Commitment/Disclosure: This section states they understand violating the agreement will result in consequences and outlines what those consequences will be.
- Signature and Date: This section requires both the parent or parents and the child to sign and date.
This is a rough sketch of what should be included in a Social Media and Online Safety Contract. Keep in mind contracts should be updated and revised as the child matures or each year upon a new school year. Contracts should be created individually for each child in the family based on his or her age, behavior, and comprehension level which will determine the language that needs to be used in the contract. Since this is one contract that does not require a lawyer to approve, do not be afraid of how rules and behaviors are spelled out. It is more important your child understands he or she will be held accountable for their actions, and there is an agreement which they have committed to.