Updated: Nov 9
This article was written by Kayelene Kerr from eSafeKids.
What is a Family Technology Plan
A family technology plan is a set of guidelines and rules that are agreed upon by family members to establish healthy habits and safe technology use. It is designed to help families manage and regulate the use of technology within the home, and to ensure that everyone in the household understands the expectations and responsibilities associated with the use of technology.
A family technology plan may cover a variety of topics, such as:
When screen time is allowed E.g. After homework and chores are done, after physical activity, not during the school week, only on the weekend.
How much screen time is allowed.
Screen free areas in your home E.g. bedroom, bathroom, toilet, dinner table
Screen free time E.g. The hour before bed
Online Security & Privacy
Rules for social media, mobile devices, gaming, content creation etc.
Rules, restrictions, boundaries and consequences of misuse.
What are your 'non-negotiables' E.g. No devices in the bedroom over night, social media will be considered at 13 years of age.
The intention of a family technology plan is to create a framework that helps promote respectful, responsible, moderate, mindful and safe use of technology, while also fostering open communication among family members. By working together to establish these guidelines, families can help ensure that everyone is using technology in a way that is safe, healthy, and positive for all involved.
Creating a family plan
I'm not going to provide you with a template plan because every family and child is different, what works for one may not work for another. Rather, I'm going to share some things you might like to consider when creating a written family plan or verbally discussing this with your child. This will assist you to consider the rules, restrictions and boundaries that will exist in your home. It will also help you to explain your reasons for the rules and the consequences if rules are broken/boundaries tested.
You can use this information to tailor an agreement that will work for your family. Your family media plan may be:
Electronically created, stored and shared
A poster created together and displayed
The earlier you start this the better! It will assist you to create clear expectations around technology use and internet access that are in line with your family values. The agreement can be reviewed over time and changes made as needed.
The information below is not exhaustive, consider it and then use it in a way that will work for your family. The content is divided into sections:
Loan don't own
Having a device is a privilege, not a right. This device is on loan to you and with it comes rules and responsibilities. As your parent/s we have the responsibility to teach, guide, model and support you to have safe, positive and respectful online experiences. We have to consider your developing brain and body and also how technology use can affect your mood, behaviour and choices.
Your health, wellbeing and safety is very important to us. We know you won’t always agree with our decisions but please know we have your best interests at heart.
We know the internet is amazing and an important part of your life. It’s also ever changing so we’ll have ongoing discussions about what you can and can’t do. We will listen to you and consider your point of view. If we say 'no' to something it’s not 'no' forever it’s ‘no, not yet’, we’re open to considering it in the future.
There is nothing you could do that would ever mean we love you less. From time to time you may do things that upset, disappoint or frustrate us but we will always be here to listen to you, stand by you, support you and help you find solutions to issues you may be facing.
Where in the house can devices be used.
Where will devices be returned to after use.
Where will devices be charged when not in use and over night.
Will you use free or third party paid parental controls.
Is permission needed to download apps and games onto the device.
Is permission needed to visit new websites.
If apps are removed from the device without permission is there a consequence.
How are devices to be treated? Eg. with care, kept clean, charged, stored safety and not left lying around.
If the device leaves the home what are your expectations for its use.
Privacy and Security
Have a family email address for signing up to sites, apps, games and online services.
Help your child create email/s account's.
Teach your child how to create secure passwords.
Will you know your child's passwords.
If your child changes a password is there an expectation you'll be told.
Teach your child not to share passwords with anyone except you.
How will you manage location sharing/geo-location services.
Will your child have to ask permission before purchasing apps, making in-app purchases or spending money in other ways.
Will your child have to ask permission before subscribing to sites.
Will you require your child to set all accounts to 'private'.
Will you teach your child not to share any personal information about themselves, family or friends online. Eg. full name, date of birth, age, address, phone number, school name, where they hang out or play sport.
I will ask my parents for permission to use my device.
I will be respectful online.
I will be kind with my words and behaviour.
I will not use my device to tease, bully, put down, embarrass, frighten, humiliate or threaten anyone.
Cyberbullying is not ok and if I see someone being bullied I’ll do something about it.
When I’m at school I will follow the school rules for device use.
I will not use my device during sleep time.
I will not use my device when I should be doing homework.
I will answer the phone and respond to messages if my family contacts me.
I will do my best to use my device in a way that is good for my wellbeing.
I will do my best to make sure my devices doesn’t take me away from other things that are important. Eg. sleep, exercise, family time, time with friends, school work, chores, hobbies etc.
I understand I am not free from the consequences of my actions. If I break rules I may loose the privledge of my device for a period of time.
I will not share photos or videos of other people without their consent (permission).
I will not talk to strangers online. I will only communicate with people I know or I will not talk to people I do not know without my parent/s’ permission.
I will only be online friends with people I know in real life.
I will only message and communicate with people I know in real life.
I will not meet in person anyone I have met online. I will tell my parent/s if someone asks me to meet me.
I will not tell anyone my where I live, go to school and hangout. I will tell my parent/s if someone asks me these questions.
I will not share my account details or passwords with anyone.
If someone tells me I’ve won a prize I will speak to my parents first.
I will tell my parent/s if I need to block or report someone or something online.
I will ask for help if I am being teased, threatened, bribed, embarrassed, scared or humiliated online.
I will ask for help if I feel unsafe or I think someone I know is in an unsafe situation.
If I see or hear, am sent or shown words, photos or videos that I don't understand or have questions about I'll talk with a trusted adult about it.
If I see or hear, am sent or shown words, photos or videos that make me feel scared/upset/confused/nervous/anxious/embarrassed/gross/uncomfortable/ unsafe I'll talk with a trusted adult about it.
If I see or hear, am sent or shown private photos or private videos I'll talk with a trusted adult.
I know I can talk with my parents about anything, no matter what it is.
I know I can ask my parent/s for help.
I know I can contact the Kids Helpline or visit the eSafety Commissioner website.
I will tell my parents if I need to block or report something or someone online.
I will not use my device if I'm crossing the road.
I understand that the words, photos and videos I post online can be shared, copied, downloaded or become public, even if I don't intend them to.
I understand that once I share something online I loose control of who will see it now and in the future.
Before posting words, photos or videos I will consider the appropriateness of it and whether it could damage my reputation now or in the future. I will pause before I post and think about who could see what I'm about to send in 2 minutes, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 years.
I will consider how would I feel if my parents, grandparents, friends parents, teachers, police, employer or unsafe person saw what I shared.
If something upsets me or I'm involved in conflict I'll try and pause, take a time out because I know if I respond in the moment I might do/say/send/share something that could be hurtful or upsetting for someone else, get me into trouble or effect my reputation.
I will take regular breaks from my device.
I will practice the 20-20-20-20-20 Rule to look after my eyes, vision and posture.
If I'm using headphones, gaming headset, AirPods or ear buds I will be mindful of how often I use this, how long I use it for and the volume level.
If I know I'm going to be doing something for several hours I'll try and prepare a healthy snack before I start.
I understand sleep is vital for my health, wellbeing and performance. If I don't get a good nights sleep it can negatively effect my mood, behaviour, choices, memory, learning, ability to concentrate and so much more.
What can your children expect from you?
In our family ...
I/We will be available to listen to you, help you and support you if needed.
I/We will try and respond calmly and without judgment.
You won't be in trouble if you ask for help or assistance.
I/We will try and answer any questions you have. If I don't know something, we'll learn together.
I/We will be conscious of how much time individually and as a family we spend using technology.
I/We will work together to develop respectful, responsible and safe use of technology.
I/We will work together to develop healthy habits.
I/We will support your to develop critical thinking skills.
I/We will support you to develop emotional regulation strategies.
I/We work with you to resolve problems.
I/We will remain open to discussing the apps, games and online services you'd like to use. We may not always agree with you and allow it but we will listen.
In our family we won't use devices at the dinner table/bathroom/bedroom etc.
In our family devices do not stay in bedrooms at night time.
I/We will find things we can enjoy together.
Family Technology Plan
Visit the eSafeKids Members' Community to download a Family Technology Plan guide.
Family Media Plan Tool
The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a media time calculator and a personal family media plan which allows you to create a plan specific to your family.
The Family Media Plan includes:
A list of media priorities to choose from
Practical tips to help make the plan work
Why it's important
The ability to print or share your finished plan
The option to save your plan and return as often as you'd like to make changes
Child friendly books to support conversation
Child friendly posters
You may like to read the following eSafeKids blogs:
To learn more about eSafeKids workshops and training visit our services page.
To view our wide range of child friendly resources visit our online shop.
Join the free eSafeKids online Members' Community. It has been created to support and inspire you in your home, school, organisation and/or community setting.
About The Author
Kayelene Kerr is recognised as one of Western Australia’s most experienced specialist providers of Protective Behaviours, Body Safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Wellness and Pornography education workshops. Kayelene is passionate about the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation, drawing on over 24 years’ experience of study and law enforcement, investigating sexual crimes, including technology facilitated crimes. Kayelene delivers engaging and sought after prevention education workshops to educate, equip and empower children and young people, and to help support parents, carers, educators and other professionals. Kayelene believes protecting children from harm is a shared responsibility and everyone can play a role in the care, safety and protection of children. Kayelene aims to inspire the trusted adults in children’s lives to tackle sometimes challenging topics.
eSafeKids strives to reduce and prevent harm through proactive prevention education, supporting and inspiring parents, carers, educators and other professionals to talk with children, young people and vulnerable adults about protective behaviours, body safety, cyber safety, digital wellness and pornography. eSafeKids is based in Perth, Western Australia.
eSafeKids provides books and resources to teach children about social and emotional intelligence, resilience, empathy, gender equality, consent, body safety, protective behaviours, cyber safety, digital wellness, media literacy, puberty and pornography.
eSafeKids books can support educators teaching protective behaviours and child abuse prevention education that aligns with the Western Australian Curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Framework: National Quality Standards (NQS).