E-mail Contracts for Kids
A friend of mine from graduate school and I were just lamenting over the fact that our daughters are asking to have e-mail accounts. Well, actually, we were marveling at how time has flown and that our kids are at this age already. Ok, truthfully, we were feeling sorry for ourselves about how old we must be to have tween-age kids, but I digress…
She and I are both concerned about setting guidelines for our girls as they take big steps into the world of technology social media. Here are the sets of guidelines she and I each pieced together from our own wisdom and bits of advice on the web. I like hers better…she liked mine…together, perhaps we have a whole parent’s brain. You can feel free to pick and choose from either. Hopefully, you can find the suggestions helpful:
1. Always be kind, and do not ever use email to say ugly, nasty, or mean things about ANYONE. Not only is that not behavior not acceptable, but email can always be forwarded to someone & hurt their feelings.
2. If you don’t recognize an address in your inbox, or someone sends you a weird email, don’t touch the email & come get me or Daddy.
3. No opening attachments or clicking on links without approval.
4. Daddy and I can and will access your emails at any time. You must give us your password(s) if you change them.
5. The only computers you are allowed to access your email from is mine or Daddy’s (and Grandma’s). If you access Gmail from school, you would have to be responsible enough to “SIGN OUT” so that the next person can’t access your email. Many grown-ups can’t even remember to do this, so I’m not going to ask you to. So, no accessing emails from school until I believe you’re responsible enough to do this.
6. NEVER click the “remember me” or “remember this password?” if you do access your email from another computer (against my rules). This will allow that computer to ALWAYS remember your password without the person sitting there to even think about it.
7. Never send to anyone in an email the following: your real address, phone number, any passwords, our cell phone numbers, your birthday/date, social security number or any other identifying information–not even to someone you know. This will cause you BIG, BIG problems or put you in DANGER from people who want to harm children.
8. Don’t use “Reply all.” Many grown-ups don’t even understand how to use this properly.
9. If someone emails you telling you you won something: you didn’t. Come get one of us.
10. Don’t go into the “Spam” folder – that’s not a place for children, and I’m trusting you enough to follow this rule (and the others). If you think an email you want may have mistakenly found its way in there, ask one of us to look in there for you.
11. You are not allowed to use Google+ without our permission. That is something you can earn with good behavior and when you’re a little older.
YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT IS A PRIVILEGE. WE CAN REVOKE THIS PRIVILEGE AT ANY TIME. WE CAN RESTRICT THE PRIVILEGE IN ANY WAY AT ANY TIME. WE EXPECT YOU TO FOLLOW THESE RULES IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THIS PRIVILEGE.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRACT:
We believe our family values include kindness, honesty, and compassion for others. Our use of technology must reflect these values. Therefore, we recognize that having an email address, texting, using a YouTube account, and any other uses of technology must follow these rules:
- Communication (sending e-mails, commenting on videos, sending texts, etc) is for the purpose of friendship and exchange of ideas or information. It is never for spreading gossip, making rude comments, using bad language, or giving out personal information to people we don’t know.
- Technology can never be used for the purposes of humiliating, embarrassing, getting revenge upon, or hurting others in any way.
- Sending or uploading photos and videos with any personally identifying images or information are not permitted unless specially approved by Mommy or Daddy.
- Mommy and Daddy must always have access to the passwords and content for all of your technology accounts.
- Mommy and Daddy reserve the right to insist that particular sites and friends who behave in violation of our values be banned or blocked.
- No emails, texts, YouTube comments, etc after 9:00pm (school year) and 9:30pm (summer).
If these rules are not followed, the following will occur:
First violation: All technology privileges ended for 7 days.
Second violation: All technology privileges ended for 14 days.
Third violation: All technology privileges ended indefinitely.
While we understand that anyone can make a mistake, we believe that living according to our values is critically important.
For more information and suggestions for teaching kids about ethical uses of technology and social media, please check out my post on Psychology Today, Teaching Netiquette to Kids.