Today, a guest post from Hilary Smith, a freelance journalist, writer and parent. Hilary specializes in positive parenting techniques and technology.
Planning a summer vacation for the whole family?
Family vacations should be about having fun adventures, exploring new places and bonding together, but it’s hard to do this when your kids won’t get off their cell phones!
Before you book those plane tickets, follow these tips to create a summer vacation technology contract for everyone in your family:
Hold Them Responsible
A major part of the contract should be holding kids responsible for their behavior on their smartphones. Make sure that the contract outlines consequences for engaging in inappropriate behavior, and let kids know that you will monitor their smartphone use and check what apps are downloaded onto their phones.
Parents should always be aware that there are apps kids can download that allow them to hide texts, photos and videos. Be on the lookout for these hidden apps and make sure they are banned in the contract.
Every contract should include information on “phone-free zones” where kids must put their phones away in order to spend time with the family.
On summer vacations, any kind of activity that you do together should be considered a phone-free zone. Allow kids to use their phones to snap pictures of the family vacation, but they should not be able to text, make phone calls or hop on social media until the fun, family activity is over.
Remember to write in the contract that kids should always keep their phones on silent while in these phone-free zones.
It’s not uncommon for kids to occasionally sport a bad attitude on a family vacation. After all, there are times when kids would much rather be with their friends than their family members.
To avoid temper tantrums and eye rolls, write in the contract that any bad attitudes will be punished with a loss of cell phone privileges. Kids have to remember that having a cell phone is a privilege and not a right. This will help maintain a pleasant atmosphere on your family vacation and set expectations for how everyone should behave together.
Keeping the Phone Safe
Summer vacation can mean a lot of traveling and changes in routine. Make sure that the summer contract you create with your teen holds them accountable for keeping track of their phone and protecting it from being damaged. Kids can be careless sometimes, so it’s not farfetched to think that they could easily leave a phone on the plane, in a rental car or on the hotel nightstand after checkout.
Depending on where you go and what kind of adventures you go on together, it could be easy for your teen to damage the phone by dropping it in the water or against the ground. To avoid having to pay for a replacement phone, make sure that your child knows that he or she is responsible for anything that happens to the phone. If the phone is lost or damaged, have a plan set in place for how he or she can work to pay off the cost of the repair or replacement.
Remember, to truly enjoy a family vacation, parents have to stick to the rules of the contract, too. Teens follow their parents’ example, so be a good role model and follow your own rules.
By enforcing this contract, you can make lasting memories with your loved ones this summer!
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
While we have not used technology contracts with our sons, I can see how it would be a good idea. We did create comprehensive driving contracts when each boy turned 16 and those were very helpful (I can email you a copy if you’d like).
The links in this post have some excellent information on writing contracts. Additionally, I came across the following PDF. You would probably want to add sections on summer, family time and travel, as suggested by Hilary, but I think it’s a good starting place.
Finally, one of the BEST things we’ve done is leave our phones at home when on vacation. Read more about our unplugged adventures in Costa Rica.
Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology into a freelance writing career. As a journalist and parent, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t pique her interest.
More On Teens:
- Mi Familia: Unplugged, June 30, 2014.
- Parenting Teens: Off the Couch and Into the Outdoors, July 8, 2013.
- No Regret Parenting, September 9, 2013.
- Hard Truths About Skiing with Teens. And Some Good News, Too. March 12, 2014.
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