When cell phones met teenagers, cell phone contracts became a thing. It’s a common way for parents to keep teenagers’ phone use in check.
Cell phone contracts aren’t bad. They are a great first step toward talking with our teens about using a cell phone responsibly. And they are far better than not having any boundaries or consequences…
But, we think that a family technology plan is much more useful than a cell phone contract! Families can create a family technology plan together by answering where they will use screens, when they will be used, for how long, and for what purpose.
Here’s why we think this works better than a cell phone contract:
- Creating a family technology plan holds everyone in the family accountable. As the saying goes, “More is caught than is taught.” We often have great reasons for pulling out our devices—work, arranging carpool, setting a timer for dinner, and the list goes on. But we can often do better. What if we followed some of the same expectations we set for our kids? This gives parents an opportunity to model the kind of behavior they want to see.
- Creating a family technology plan promotes unity within the family. A family tech plan gives the family a chance to work together toward a common goal. A cell phone contract singles one person out. Teenagers don’t often love feeling controlled. A contract tends to make teens feel like they are being ruled with an iron fist. Boundaries are essential, but we don’t want them to feel forced. Your family tech plan can cover all devices and ages/stages, helping everyone to work toward using screens wisely.
- Creating a family technology plan will help your kids know why it’s important to balance screen time. Through a series of discussions, your family can create their own plan together. By discussing the why behind smart technology use, you will tap into the limbic part of the brain. (This idea is from Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why.) This is the part of the brain that controls behavior and decision-making. We are much more likely to make better choices when we know why it matters.
- Creating a family technology plan starts an important ongoing conversation. Kids grow up and technology changes. You will be so glad you started this conversation early on! As new topics arise, you can adjust your tech plan as needed. Every discussion won’t be easy (especially if you are making some real changes or have teenagers!), but it will prepare your kids in the best way possible.
- Creating a family technology plan gives you more flexibility. Every family is so different. Within each family there are a variety of personalities. Printing out a pre-made cell phone contract is unlikely to cover all of your family’s values and preferences. By creating a family tech plan from scratch with your kids, you can decide how your family wants to use technology.
Have you created a family technology plan with your family? What worked well for you? We’d love to know!
If you need help getting started, check out our free Quick Guide to Creating a Family Technology Plan right here.
Once our kids grow into teens, we recommend working with them to create a parent/teen pledge! You can learn more about a working together on a pledge in our course, Untangling Teens & Tech!
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