Unless there are extenuating circumstances, making access to technology and social media a battle of wills with your child will backfire. Shoving contracts in their face can and often does create resentment and desire to sneak. But you still need to keep them healthy and safe. I get it!
Here is an alternative approach I would encourage you to consider:
1. Have the talk. But not when you are arguing. Pick a weekend day after a good night’s sleep and a relaxing morning. Before you start, ask them to listen with an open heart and mind. Then tell them your thoughts, worries, concerns, fears, wants, etc. Everything you want them to know. Show them the videos and the news articles. Share your dreams for them. Talk about relationships and living in real life instead of a device.
2. Ask them to do the same. Let then tell you why social media is important to them. Why they like to watch you tube videos of gamers for hours on end. Why they have to fall asleep to music, or why they need their phone at their side 24 hours a day.
3. Take out two blank pieces of paper and a pen. On one sheet, ask them to create the rules they (and you) should live by, and 3 reasons why they are suggesting each rule. Let them drive the bus and just listen.
4. Next, right in front of them, you discuss the rules they added and add the rules you need in place and the three reasons why for each, INCLUDING monitoring, spot checking and whatever else you feel you need to have in place to keep them safe and healthy. You get the last word on the rules here. if you are a no Snapchat house, that’s a rule. If you are a no social media until a certain age, that’s a rule. You do you. But lay it on the line here.
5. Go through it together and the only things that can be REMOVED are ones you agree on together.
6. You both sign.
7. Take the second piece of blank paper and now write the consequences for breaking the rules. Make them specific, FIRM and unpleasant. Make it hurt, and include scenarios where they lose it ALL, INCLUDING your trust.
8. You both sign.
9. And here’s the trickiest part, and it’s all on you: Be consistent in your follow up and and follow through, especially if they break the rules.
I am in charge of my house and I am responsible for my kids. They know I mean business and we have plenty of rules and expectations for them. But I have learned that in this area of life, where they can get access to it all with or without your permission (friends’ phones, burner phones, old devices in your home you have forgotten about, work arounds, VPN’s, bible apps, messages.... ugh. The list is long and grows every day...) you NEED their buy in.
You will NEVER outstmart a kid with technology - they are determined and there is always a loophole or a workaround. ALWAYS.
I promise you this process isn’t perfect, and when there are extenuating circumstances (like already surfaced defiance or determination to access at all costs or compromises with safety or laws), you have to look at that differently.
But I also promise you this process will reduce conflict, increase ownership and commitment on your child’s part and allow you to do this together.
It is also a way forward without it becoming a contest to see who can outwit the other where you will both may up losing. I have seen many parent child relationships completely destroyed over technology (gaming, porn) and / or social media. It will also be less of a stressor for you, and you will be able to encourage more and bring down the hammer less. It will be a win/win for your entire family. I promise.