Family Technology Rules: Kid’s Expectations for Parents

Do you have technology rules for your kids? Chances are you do. Most families have rules like ‘don’t text and drive’ or ‘no device at the dinner table’

A small study conducted by the University of Michigan and University of Washington, studied 249 parent-child pairs across 40 states. Their paper was presented March 2 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in San Francisco. It was among the first studies to explore children’s expectations for parents’ technology use.

They found that children ages 10-17 ‘were really concerned’ about the social media posts their parents are submitting. Three times more children than parents believe there should be rules about what PARENTS post.

After asking the kids about what technology rules they wanted to see their parents follow, their answers fell into seven general categories:

  • Be present — Kids felt there should be no technology at all in certain situations, such as when a child is trying to talk to a parent.
  • Child autonomy — Parents should allow kids to make their own decisions about technology use without interference.
  • Moderate use — Parents should use technology in moderation and in balance with other activities.
  • Supervise children — Parents should establish and enforce technology-related rules for children’s own protection.
  • Not while driving — Parents should not text while driving or sitting at a traffic light.
  • No hypocrisy — Parents should practice what they preach, such as staying off the Internet at mealtimes.
  • No oversharing — Parents shouldn’t share information online about their children without explicit permission.

What rule do children in this study feel should be most enforced? ‘Don’t post anything about me on social media without asking me.’ This includes pictures of sleeping kids, frustration over homework, or a rant over laundry.

The first babies of Facebook (started in 2004) are not yet in their teens and this small study shows that some children may be concerned about the digital record from their early years.

While this study is small, it might make some parents question what they post on Facebook and other social media sites. At the very least, it is a nice conversation starter to ensure there will be no regrets a few years from now.