In this day and age, NOT having a portable technological device is a bit of a handicap, especially to kids in middle and high school. We’ve dragged our feet as much and as long as possible until we FINALLY had to give in on the mobile phones (for our eldest; still in ‘dragging’ mode for the middle one). This year we move to a new school where we have had to bite the extremely expensive bullet and buy laptops for all of the boys, too.
Laptops are a necessary evil for kids in school. Especially for kids in the IB program, the need for a device spans all courses, as the kids often have papers and presentations to do - both group and individual - and they also have a lot of research projects to complete. Now with all three in middle school and the school at our post not having a leasing program, we did not really have a choice. To be honest, I can’t think of a single task that they might face during middle school that would require a full blown laptop; a chrome book style computer would definitely meet all of the needs. That’s not an option, though, as the school requires laptops.
So, long story short, I have spent the last little bit writing a laptop agreement form. When the eldest got his mobile, I wrote a phone and social media agreement; this one cribs that a bit, but because the capabilities of the laptop are so different, we included a lot of other rules as well.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous. Even kids as young as second grade come to school with mom or dad’s old hand-me-down; need it or not, young children are accessing the ‘net, and they probably don’t have any idea what they are seeing. We try to protect them as much as we can at home, and then suddenly, anyone on the internet can reach them. Our phone and social media agreement gives a bit more freedom than some I’ve seen - in part because we feel (hope) that we have instilled a bit of social responsibility and a healthy respect of disappointing parents in our kids. That said, there are some out there in Internet land that prey on youth on social media, and even as our kids are chomping at the bit for more freedom, they are still ‘ours’ to protect.
I know telling your kids that you are going to be reading their files, texts, and social media is not going to make you very popular. It does, however, reinforce your social media rules which is important; it also helps you know when your kids are ready to take of the proverbial training wheels.
I am sharing the link for both of our agreements (cellphone and laptop). Both include social media rules.
Please take them and use them with your kids. Change what you don’t agree with, add what you think is missing. Let your kids know that you trust them with the devices, but your job is still to make sure they are safe and well.