Special contribution by Naomi Shaw –
It’s hard to enjoy yourself on a family vacation when your kids can’t seem to tear themselves away from their cell phones. Today’s kids are estimated to be spending up to nine hours per day on their phones, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for family fun while on vacation. That’s why it’s so important for families to sit down together and hammer out a vacation technology contract that has to be followed in order to limit kids’ time on their phones and maximize the fun. What should be included in these contracts? Here are a few suggestions:
Parents should create “no phone zones” on their family vacations. These zones should include family dinners, game nights, or any special event you have planned together. Kids should be held responsible for not bringing their phones to these no phone zones so they can focus on spending time with their family instead of updating social media and texting their friends.
No excessive photography.
Kids today take a million pictures of themselves and their surroundings wherever they go in order to find the perfect shot to upload to their social media accounts. Create a section of the contract that prohibits excessive photo taking, and maybe even go one step further to say kids are not allowed to update their social media accounts while on vacation. Every update they make will further remove them from the fun since they’ll be too busy picking out filters, writing hashtags and seeing how many people liked their photo. Allow them to take a few pictures at a time while on vacation, but work with your kids to come up with an agreed upon limit.
Silence is golden.
When kids aren’t in the “no phone zone,” they should still have to keep their phones on silent, especially if you are doing certain activities such as going on a guided tour or visiting museums together on your vacation. This will ensure your kids are being polite to everyone around you—not just other members of the family.
Use this technology contract as an opportunity to talk to your kids about online safety. Remind kids you will be monitoring their activity online to make sure they are using proper digital etiquette, meaning they are not visiting mature websites or engaging in inappropriate conversations with other people.
This contract should be a way for kids to learn there are consequences for their actions. An acceptable smartphone contract will outline what will happen if your kids break the rules, but it’s up to you to follow through with these consequences so your kids know you’re serious. Make sure when kids break a rule of the agreement, you sit down with them to discuss why the rule is so important and how they can learn from their mistake.
Parents, remember if you set these rules for your kids, you should have to follow them, too. Kids will learn from your behavior, so make sure you are setting a good example by putting your phone away on family vacations. Create a “parents’ pledge” clause in the contract where you promise your child to put him or her first and your smartphone second.
Naomi Shaw is a full-time freelance writer who focuses on parenting, education, food, crafting and DIY, mompreneurship, writing, and anything family focused. This working mom is married with three children living in sunny Southern California. Her voice is very caring and warm and she is always friendly to new people.