Screenagers director Delaney Ruston almost named her documentary “Out of Control” because that’s how dealing with her children’s technology use felt. We agree. And we have talked with many parents who feel the same way. Time and again, parents tell us that they gave their child a smartphone because they felt pressured to do so. And many wish they could take it back.
So what is the answer? If you find yourself unable to delay smartphone ownership, a family media plans is a great way to regain some of that control. Setting guidelines around media use is important and strongly recommended by healthcare professionals and technology leaders who care about child internet safety. This gives way to open and honest conversations about media use which are vital to raising tech-savvy kids. Family media plans should be working documents and reviewed on a regular basis to both remind children of the rules and also to re-evaluate what is working and what is not.
We’ve researched some of the most popular family media plans and listed them below. Remember, a family media plan is useful for all types of media, from smartphone and device use to gaming and TV. A Family Media Plan should also fit your family values and needs. So while these can be used as is, don't be afraid to customize one to work for your family.
*This is just a collection of media plans and not an endorsement for any one plan. If you find a plan worth sharing, please email it to us so we can add it to our list*
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS - FAMILY MEDIA PLAN
This is a great article from AAP which outlines the benefits and risks of media use. It also provides suggestions for parents and healthcare professionals. It is well-documented with references to studies done in 2015. This was published in November of 2016. Keep in mind, technology development is happening so fast and research takes a long time so while this is probably the most current data out there, media use has increased since these studies were done. Thorough information, none-the-less.
A joint venture with Common Sense Media and AAP, this tool offers suggestions and allows parents to fully customize a Media Plan for their family based on family values and the maturity and age of your children. It is extensive, suggests don’ts as well as dos and will challenge kids to think about the world outside of media. It also gives parents the option to add their own rules. The print option isn’t great (it can be long) and you can’t save it. If your kids are all around the same age and will have the same rules, we suggest having a general plan for the family vs. individual plans for each child. There’s also an option to add a media time calculator which gives parents the ability to assign time to each of your child’s activities in a day.
JANELL BURLEY HOFMANN’S IPHONE CONTRACT FOR HER SON GREG
This contract went viral when Janell posted it to her blog several years ago. It was featured in Screenagers. It’s endearing and comical. She addresses risk behaviors as well as ways smartphones can be used for good. This contract can be applied to iPod and iPad use as well but doesn’t address other types of screens or media use, such as gaming.
To see Janell’s contract, click here:
To build your own, click here:
SCREENAGERS FAMILY SCREEN TIME AGREEMENT
Delaney Ruston, primary care physician and filmmaker, takes a holistic approach to family media planning. She challenges parents and kids to think about how media should be used and why media use and restrictions are important. She asks some general questions to get parents thinking about their family’s values as they relate to media use. She also thoughtfully discusses incentives, consequences and wiggle room, which the other plans don’t cover. She creates an environment for conversation, which Concord Promise full-heartedly supports.
TRUCE - TEACHERS RESISTING UNHEALTHY CHILDREN'S ENTERTAINMENT
TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment) is a grassroots organization of educators who prepare materials and provide information to help parents and educators work to counteract the harmful impact of commercial culture, media, and marketing on children's play, learning, and behavior. TRUCE is a great resource for appropriate toy suggestions for children as well as current research and information about the impacts of media and technology on young children.
Family Play Plans - Provide great suggestions for play, season specific.
This smartphone contract touches upon Basic Phone Rules, Knowing Priorities, Digital Citizenship, Social Media and Sharing. It is easy to read and covers all the basics. This contract is based on TeenSafe, a subscription service that monitors smartphone usage, so many of points on the contract refer back to the subscription service. Parents can easily edit this contract to fit their needs. We are not in the practices of recommending products so although we are sharing this contract, we are not endorsing this service.
TeenSafe Smartphone Contract