The Summer Vacation Technology Contract Every Family Needs
Every summer, families hit the road or the skies to embark on new adventures together. Nothing says family fun quite like a summer vacation, but there is one thing that can put a damper on the excitement—smartphones. Teens spend about six hours per day on their smartphones and tablets. It can be hard to create memories and bond together as a family when your teen refuses to put his or her cell phone down. How can you share funny stories, snap family photos and soak in the beautiful surroundings of your exotic destination if your teen can’t look up from his or her smartphone screen?
Before you start planning your vacation itinerary, follow these tips to create a summer vacation technology contract:
No phones allowed.
Every summer vacation technology contract should include information on “no phone zones.” Clearly outline where kids are allowed and not allowed to bring their phones while on summer vacation. For example, if you’re taking a long road trip across the country, you could allow kids to use their phones to pass the time. However, phones should be off limits at family dinners or fun excursions. As long as you make the rules fair, your kids will abide by them.
Keep it on silent.
Make sure kids know that phones should be kept on silent at all times, even in places that you have not designated as a phone-free zone. Take the example above, for instance. If you allow your teen to use her phone on a road trip, she should keep it on silent while it’s in use so she doesn’t annoy everyone else in the car.
Focus on the now.
So many kids are more interested in snapping photos than they are about living in the present, so this should be included in your technology contract. Make sure kids understand that every stop on your family vacation is not an excuse to take a dozen selfies. Designate one person in the family as the official photo taker so your kids don’t become obsessed with documenting every move of the vacation.
Give them responsibility.
The contract should make it very clear to kids that they are solely responsible for taking care of their phone during your family’s summer vacation. Kids should learn that smartphones are a privilege, not a right. If your family is heading to the beach, kids should be responsible for making sure the phone is not damaged by sand or water. Traveling on an airplane? It should be your kid’s responsibility to keep track of where they put their phone—not yours. Make sure you include ways that your teen can pay you back for replacement or repair costs if something does happen to the phone. This way they know the consequences are serious, and they’ll be more likely to keep a close eye on their phones.
Talk about safety.
Although the main purpose of the contract is to keep kids off their phones, you should also use this document as a way to talk to kids about online safety. Mention in the contract that you will be monitoring activity on the phone to make sure that your teen is not visiting dangerous apps or websites or engaging in inappropriate conversations with people.
To have a true smartphone-free summer vacation, everyone in the family has to be on board with the rules above—even parents! Set a good example for your teens by sticking to the rules of the contract and focusing on the fun that you have planned for the family. In fact, you should even work with your teens to create a “parents’ pledge” section of the contract. This section should include rules such as “I promise to be a good role model” and “I promise to set reasonable expectations for my child.” This way, teens won’t feel like they’re being singled out for their smartphone use, and will instead feel like the whole family is working towards the goal of spending more time together and less time with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen!