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Kids today are growing up in a dizzying world of technology. Even if they’re not accessing the internet on smartphones, tablets, and laptops at home, they’re likely using them at school. And although their devices can be powerful tools, they can also create problems.

A technology contract is a great way for your family to collaborate on rules for using devices and accessing the internet. It can help make sure the whole family is on the same page about how to get the most out of technology, and — most importantly — how to stay safer online. You can download Bark’s Technology Contract here.

Consider a Technology Contract As Collateral for Your Child’s Device

As more and more kids have access to connected devices, the pressure for parents to provide kids with their own smartphones and tablets is heating up. But technology is a privilege, not a right. In most cases, parents are the owners of their kids’ devices, not the kids themselves. It’s OK to remind your kids that you’re loaning them the device in good faith, and you require them to sign a technology contract in exchange.

Set the Ground Rules

While the internet offers amazing possibilities, there are also many dangers that exist online. Here are a few points to consider.

Discuss Online Etiquette

In addition to setting safety rules for your child, it’s also critical to help them understand that there is basic etiquette for navigating the online world. For example, you could set rules about turning the device off in certain public places like restaurants or at the movies. Or consider a rule where the whole family puts their devices away during dinner or leaves their devices in the kitchen to charge overnight while sleeping.

Your child may know how to be a good person in real life, but the anonymity of the internet can sometimes blur the lines. It’s a good idea to clearly spell out that they should never lie to people online. Remind your child to be a good friend who never promotes or shares hurtful messaging, either. If your child is old enough to access social media sites, teach them the basics of privacy. And if you’re using Bark, explain that you’re monitoring their activity to ensure their safety, not to snoop.

Model the Behavior You Want Your Child to Emulate

Children watch what the adults in their lives are doing, so be mindful of how you use technology around them. For example, a “no smartphone at the dinner table” rule should include adults, too. Set a good example and interact with technology in the same manner you expect from your child.

The internet opens doors to amazing things for your child, and the conversation around responsibility, respect, and safety should be ongoing as technology continues to evolve. With a technology contract in place, everyone in the family can refer to it for clear expectations and actions.

Monitor Your Kid’s Activities

In addition to setting up a tech contract as a family and having regular conversations about internet safety, you can use Bark to monitor your child’s online activities. Even after talking about your family’s rules about the internet, your child might not always follow them. That’s why having an additional safeguard in place can be helpful.

Our award-winning monitoring service alerts parents and guardians when there’s a potential issue they need to know about — including cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, depression, suicidal thoughts, threats of violence, and more to monitor your child’s texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms. As a ParentMD member, you get one month of our service completely free! Get started here.

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