After lots of discussion, we decided to buy each of our daughters an iPod Touch for Christmas. If you don’t know, an iPod Touch is basically an iPhone without the phone. Because there is no wireless service, you have to be on a WiFi network to access the internet.
Other than that, it’s basically the same.
We’ve had many discussions with our children about internet safety and appropriate online behavior. But we wanted to make sure our thoughts and requirements were crystal clear.
We created the following contract, which we all had to sign.
Congratulations! You have an iPod. It is both a compliment to your maturity and a big responsibility.
Above all, know this: we are here for you. Ask questions. Learn how the iPod, the Internet and the web really work (we actually know a thing or two).
You will make mistakes. You will need guidance. We will take it away and you will earn it back. We are in this together. We love you more than anything. We always will.
1. This iPod is a privilege, not a right. We gave it to you and we can take it away. It really is that simple.
2. We will have your passwords. We will read your texts. We will look at your apps, your photos and your videos. We will not tell you when, and we will not ask permission. Your digital life will not exist in isolation.
3. Take care of it. Breaks, cracks, water, sand and disappearances are all at your expense. Don’t leave it on the floor. Don’t lend it to anyone.
4. You want to download something? Get permission. First. Even if it’s free.
5. In general, 7:00 p.m. shutdown on weeknights and 9:00 p.m. on weekends. However, given any particular day’s schedule, amount of homework or general level of cooperation, we may change this.
6. If you receive texts, photos, videos or anything questionable or inappropriate, you will tell us. If you are being threatened, bullied, or sent anything concerning (pictures of people’s private parts, violent acts, etc) you need our help. That’s what we’re here for.
7. What you text, post and share is YOU. Make sure your online and offline personalities match. If you wouldn’t say it to us, to your grandparents, or to your teachers, don’t say it online.
8. Understand this: once you share something online, it is public forever. Anything can be forwarded, shared or captured in a screenshot. If you don’t want everyone to see it or read it, don’t share it.
9. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social networking. Do not use your real name, photo, birthday, address or any other personal information online. Never EVER make plans to talk to or meet up someone from the Internet. If you have a question, ask.
10. No taking videos or pictures of people who don’t know you’re taking them. No videos or pictures in the name of humor at the expense of another person. Siblings included. Parents too. Always get permission to post.
11. The Internet is an incredible tool and has the best of what humanity has to offer. Learn new things. Learn about other people. Find causes and communities that bring you joy and allow you to share your personal brilliance. You have access to the smartest and most creative minds in the world. Use that access to make yourself and your life better.
12. The Internet has the worst of what humanity has to offer. People can be mean. There is sex and violence. If you look for it, you will find things that will shock and upset you. We will do our best to make sure you have access to only age-appropriate information through our rules and parental controls. You need to do your part. Don’t look for it. We will always be here to answer your questions honestly. Trust us. Talk to us.
13. Your iPod is a tool based on trust. Sneaking, lying and trying to evade the rules will break that trust. If that happens, it will affect many areas of our lives beyond (but including) access to your iPod and the Internet.
14. The world exists offline. When you are with friends, talk to them. When we are out at dinner or visiting family, put the iPod down. Don’t miss wonderful experiences because you’re too busy trying to capture or share them online. Your iPod can be a tool to build relationships but it will never take the place of them.
15. The world has consequences beyond the rules of our own family. We will always do our best to help you see those consequences in advance and make good decisions. We are your best advocates. Even when you make mistakes, and you will, we will always be on your side.
Please feel free to use part or all of this contract if you would like.