New Devices at Home? Start a Technology Contract for Kids

Did your child receive new devices in the new year? Devices are often a tricky area to approach to navigate as a parent.

  • How much is too much screen time?
  • Am I depriving my child of value learning opportunities by taking away their devices?
  • What’s the social need for children and online connections?

These questions – and so many more – impact parents today.

Luckily, parents can find many tools to help keep their kids safe when they explore the internet. And, of course, there is no replacement for good old-fashioned communication and trust.

Start with a device contract put in place as a family. Children sign behavior contracts in elementary school and practice contracts for after school teams and activities. A technology contract lets you and your kids set the framework for how devices will work in your home.


Get started with one of these easy-to-use templates listed below. These cut-and-paste templates make mixing and matching easy so you can quickly customize a solution to fit your family values. To see an example in action, scroll below to check out a sample contract used by one of our colleagues with her child.

The Technology Contract Templates*:

  1. Janell Burley Hoffman
  2. Common Sense Media
  3. The Tween Teacher
  4. Yahoo Safety Center

Each device contract template has 4 elements in common – 4 guiding principles that inform the framework for a comprehensive device contract for your kiddos. Let’s get into it:

The Four Guiding Principles:

  1. Money
    Technology, and the content streaming through it, costs money. The cost for an Apple iPad is upwards of $329. Setting expectations with the technology contract of “renting” the device, or your kiddos advocating for new apps or content before you authorize the purchase, can be a great opportunity for your children to consume online content purposefully and develop a sense of responsibility and ownership over their devices.
  2. Time
    Time limits for each device are clearly stated in the contract and agreed to by all parties. Writing the device time limits into the contract to reference back to is a great way to solve any last-minute disputes about screen time. And if you want to set aside time for device-free dinners or bedtimes? Use Hub by Securly to turn off the internet with a tap of a button.
  3. People
    Technology can be a wonderful connector, but not at the expense of the development of healthy social relationships that growing kids need. Using steps in the contract that reinforce responsiveness to in-person communication while the device is in use, and being mindful and putting away the device while in company of others, sets the stage for in-person relationships to flourish even when technology devices are in the picture.
  4. Content
    There are many different kinds of content out there that aren’t always appropriate for your child’s eyes. Use the free SecurlyHome app to stay in the loop with the content your kids are seeing online, and reference Common Sense Media or Smart Social to find or research apps and content that are appropriate for your child.
  1. * Info sourced from SmartFeed.

    Check out an example used by one of our colleagues with her child:

    Dear Jake,
    Hooray, hooray!

    You are now the proud boss of your very own iPad Mini. Hot Dawg! You are a good & responsible child and you are ready for this.

    But, with the acceptance of this device comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract.

    We hope you understand it is Mom and Dad’s job to raise you to be kind, well-rounded, and healthy young adults who can thrive in the world and coexist with technology, not be controlled by it.

    Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPad use. We love you to pieces & look forward to sharing hours of screen time play and discovery together with you in the years ahead.

    1. This is Mom and Dad’s iPad. We bought it. We pay for it. Your $10.00 contribution enables you to rent the iPad from us in perpetuity. Aren’t we wonderful parents?
    2. We will always know any and all passwords. We will monitor how you use the iPad and any other technology. That is our job.
    3. When we – or any other human being – address you while you’re using your iPad – or any technology – you will look up, address the person with eye contact and respond politely and kindly to what’s been said.
    4. The iPad lives with Mom and Dad and is available at wake up time (7am) until reading time (6pm).
    5. The iPad is used in common areas (the kitchen, the living room, the library). It’s to be played with when Mom and Dad or other Adults-in-Charge are around to help and engage. The iPad does not go to bedrooms or disappear with you when friends are over.
    6. Homework, chores, and family support happens – with a good attitude – before iPad play. Check your daily list – see that the good work is done well – and then check-in about technology play.
    7. The iPad playing time is set for 20 minutes each weekday – 45 minutes each weekend day. You can earn extra time via amazing, positive attitudes or kindness or behavior choices. You can also “buy time” – to be used when Mom and Dad agree is OK time to use the iPad – with your allowance. You may also find Mom and Dad support extra time for inspirational content and games. Mom and Dad may change the time settings based on maturity, behavior, or content.
    8. Friends play by our rules at our house. You play by our rules at your friends’ house.
    9. Friends may have games that are inappropriate for our family values. We trust you and your judgement – until you give us reason not to trust. Then, we will need to work together to determine how we can rebuild trust.
    10. The iPad is turned off the first time Mom, Dad, a Babysitter, or any other Adult-in-Charge asks. You may ask one time, if you may “finish this” or “show that”, but if the answer from the Adult-in-Charge is “no” – you turn off the iPad with a smile and a good attitude.
    11. Mom and Dad will download new apps and content. If you are interested in specific games or content, research them on Common Sense Media. Let Mom and Dad know why you think they are good items to add to the iPad set. Content you request that costs money to add you may be asked to pay for out of your allowance. If you are asked to do so, you can choose to do so without complaint.
    12. If water, Gatorade, syrup, or anything else spills on your iPad, or you drop it or it vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Do more jobs, sell some toys, save birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
    13. Be responsible for your iPad being ready to use. Keep it charged and clean.
    14. Turn it off, silence it, put it away when guests, adult friends, or anyone not playing the iPad with you are present. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPad to change that.
    15. Play new games, try new challenges and puzzles. Play a game with words or puzzles or work through brain-teasers.
    16. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Walk around our hood. Talk with the people in your path. Learn.
    17. You will mess up. We will take away your tablet. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & Mom & Dad, we are always learning. We are on your team. We are in this together.

    We hope you can agree to these terms.

    Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPad, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever-changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. We love you. We hope you enjoy your awesome new iPad.

    We love you. We trust you. Always.

    Mom and Dad

    How do you manage technology and devices in your home? Share with us below!


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