We all desire peace, especially in our home. Technology is often a source of contention in many households, including mine. Let’s face it, today we are barraged 24/7 by media exposure. From smartphones to social media, to streaming music, books, magazines, TV shows, computer games, and apps – all vying for our attention. If, as parents, we are to help our children navigate the ever changing and alluring digital landscape, we must provide some healthy and protective boundaries.
It’s our job to help our children balance their lives both online and offline!
When media is used wisely it can greatly enhance our lives. However, when used without boundaries, we lose out on real connection, productivity, and miss opportunities.
In our home, we found media guidelines to be super helpful especially when they whole family buys in and holds each other accountable. Emphasis on consistency of rules rather than quantity of rules is key. My only regret is that we didn’t establish rules earlier on. The younger your kids are when you establish these boundaries, the less likely you are to find yourself scrambling to put them in place when issues arise.
Following are the family guidelines we created when my youngest daughter was twelve until she went to high school:
20 Social Media Guidelines for Our Family
1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is beneficial.
Media affects our ATTITUDE and ACTIONS. Music, books, magazines, TV shows, computer games, apps, and movies are all considered media.
Our Child’s Guidelines:
- I will allow my parents to set my privacy settings and parental control settings on all my accounts and will not change these settings without permission.
- I will provide my parents with my passwords for all social media accounts and not change passwords without their permissions.
- I will never give out personal information (passwords, name, age, address, or other personal information) online or by text without my parents’ permission. I understand that identity theft is real. I will let my parents know if anyone asks for personal information.
- I will get permission to join any social media site or to download software, songs, apps, etc. onto my devices by sending an email to both parents before proceeding.
- I understand that my parents have a right to check my media history on all connected devices. If I delete any history, I will lose media privileges and will let my parents know why I deleted the history.
- I will use connected devices (cell phone, iPad, computer, etc.) in the open and not behind closed doors (i.e. bathrooms or my bedroom).
- I will charge all media devices outside of my bedroom and not bring them into my room.
- I will use connected devices only outside of school time unless discussed beforehand or common sense dictates a need to use.
- I will maintain my best effort during the school year and dedicate myself to my extracurricular activities.
- I will keep social media, streaming video, and television use in check.
- I will follow my parents’ rules regarding time limits for online use. Remember, the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He can defeat us through media distractions, keeping us busy clicking on links, watching funny videos, viewing and liking content. Ask yourself if how you spend your time is pleasing to God. (Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above ALL else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.)
- I will ask for permission before watching sitcoms, movies, or videos either online or on TV (even if I must call or text my parents while visiting a friend’s home).
- I will not watch TV shows, movies, or play games that are inappropriate. I understand that so long as I live at home my parents have the right to screen all media choices. (Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life).
- I will turn my head if any sexual content appears on screen, even kissing. Remember, your eyes take in images that your mind cannot erase so don’t pollute your mind with trash. Garbage in, garbage out. (Song of Solomon 2:7 Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem, by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe and you’re ready.)
- I will not use the internet inappropriately to slander, speak negatively about, or bully anyone nor will I participate with others doing so. I will let my parents know if others are unkind or offensive to me. Remember, words are powerful and can be used to build up or tear down others. Use your words wisely. (Exodus 23:2 “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.)
- I will avoid all chat rooms.
- I will alert my parents if I’m sent or come across pornography, anything inappropriate, or anything that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will ask for permission before sharing photos of family, friends, or myself.
- I will not listen to any music that has vulgar language or suggestive lyrics.
- I will not read magazines that focus on gossip, sex, romance, etc. (Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.)
- I will agree to ask for permission before “friending” strangers on social media sites and I will not meet up with anyone my parents do not know that I’ve met on-line.
Our Family Guidelines
- We will talk as a family during mealtimes with no technology in sight!
- We will agree to technology-free times such as meals, weekends, school, and vacations.
- We will reevaluate these guidelines monthly until we model good media stewardship.
- We will make personal relationships a priority over social media.
- We agree to use technology responsibly.
- We will not text while driving.
- We will not use cell phones in a public location where it may annoy others.
- We will use technology to draws others to Christ by sharing edifying content.
I understand that my parents love me and are seeking to protect me from danger. I risk the following consequences for violating any of the above: