Spying on your child’s phone is an easy way to read their text messages and monitor their social media usage. However, computers are now a major part of your child’s everyday life, and they give your child the same freedom to explore the web and communicate with friends as a phone does. Your kids can use their computers to access social media accounts and even text their friends through apps made for computers. Monitoring a computer is more difficult than monitoring your child’s phone, which is why it is essential to make a computer usage contract with your child in which you clearly state the rules and punishments for your child’s usage of their computer. Follow these steps in order to make an effective contract with your child:
Open the Conversation
Establishing a computer usage contract is obviously not going to be something that your child is looking forward to doing. As a result, it is crucial to approach the making of a contract as an open conversation. First, state the reasons why you want to make a contract with your child, and then ask your child what they think are reasonable guidelines for the contract.
Write down clear rules that your child must follow in order to have access to their computer. These rules should include limited times that your child should be using his/her computer (example: not after 9PM on a school night). Also set rules regarding which websites your child can and cannot access (social media sites, sites with non age-appropriate material).
Establish Clear Consequences
Just as essential as setting rules is the consequences for breaking them. These consequences should be clear. Consistency is important as well, so you should never deviate from the consequences that you set in the contract. If you do, your child may see the consequences as weak, and they may think you will not actually enforce them. However, the consequences should be reasonable and short, because excessive consequences will lead your child to find ways around, like using a friend’s computer.
Ask Your Child for Feedback
It is important to understand you are negotiating a contract with your child, not delivering an ultimatum. Establishing a contract should be a collaborative process between you and your child. If you exclude your child from the discussion, they will be more likely to see the contract as unreasonable and therefore more likely to disobey and break the contract. After the contract is made, ask your child for their thoughts and suggestions about the rules and consequences.
Revisit the Contract Periodically
After a while, it will become clear that certain parts of the contract are working well while others are not working out as you had hoped. Revisiting the contract periodically and revising accordingly is essential to maintaining a credible contract that your child will not be inclined to disobey.
The most important thing you can remember when drafting a computer usage contract is to consult your child regularly during the process of making the contract. Your child will be much more likely to follow the rules of the contract if they feel they had a say in deciding these rules.