The Importance of Family Agreements with Technology and Teens

The Importance of Family Agreements with Technology and Teens

Two-thirds of parents in the U.S. say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing technologies – like social media or smartphones – as a reason. Pew Research Center

Having conversations with your children regarding technology can be tough. However, if everyone is a part of developing a “Family Agreement” related to technology, you are setting yourself up for success to have a plan that everyone sticks to.

Not sure where to start? How about with these?

Tips to reach agreement on games and devices

Tip 1: Family rules need to be clear, consistent, and predictable.

According to the CDC, family rules help children understand what behaviors are expected. For these to work well, “everyone needs to know, understand, and follow the rules” within a family. If parents do not follow the rules or have different rules, it will be confusing to the children (CDC). Kids learn best when the rules and expectations are clear and consistent across parents.

Tip 2: Discuss your approach to tech and media use ahead of time.

Consider a family media agreement to begin a discussion with your child’s other parent (see Common Sense Media Family Media Agreement). These types of documents will help outline issues that might arise and provide an opportunity for discussion before you have to face the issue in real-time.

Tip 3: Collaborate on a plan to show a united front.

According to an interview with child psychologist Susan Wilkens, kids do best when parents reach an understanding about rules ahead of time. If a parent knows that some areas may cause friction, try to discuss and resolve these issues privately, outside of the presence of the child. As a child grows, incorporating their input into a media/tech plan is helpful and more likely to be successful.

Tip 4: Have compassion for each other.

During such a stressful year, we need compassion for our partners and for ourselves, advises psychologist Susan Wilkens. When approaching disagreements like this, start by validating your partner’s love and concern. Acknowledging their feelings and care for your child first will make negotiations around areas of conflict easier to address.


Editors Note: The California Partners Project conducted a statewide listening tour with California mothers, parents, and caregivers to understand how they navigated the integration of technology and devices into most aspects of their children’s lives. These evolving toolkits and best practices are meant to meet parents where they are. The Importance of Family Agreements is the first toolkit.

As California mothers, we are bringing these toolkits to you through a cross-collaborative campaign. San Francisco Bay Area Moms is proud to be working with San Diego Moms, Orange County Mom Collective,Ventura County Mom Collective, and Inland Empire Mom Collective. We too, want to “ensure our state’s media and technology industries are a force for good in child development” (part of California Partners Project Mission Statement). #TechTips4CaliMoms

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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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