How to Develop A Family Technology Policy
ORGANIZING TOOLKIT SERIES
We live in the Era of Endless connectivity. We are wirelessly tethered 24/7 to family, friends and fans, co-workers, customers and clients, vendors, suppliers, and perfect and imperfect strangers. One effect of endless connectivity is “work creep.” Work creep is the tendency for work to extend into times typically reserved for leisure such as meal times, vacation time and sleep. The overall effect of endless connectivity is to blur the line between work and leisure. Even leisure activities like sharing family videos on Facebook, Checking your Facebook status, commenting on blogs, participating in LinkedIn Groups, and following people on Twitter all take a little work. They also take time. That time has to come from somewhere. A second effect of endless connectivity is that it diverts time away from quality-of-life activities – like real-time with the family and social activities – to digital activities.
In the Era of Endless, families find it helpful to have guidelines for coping with the temptation to endless work and the time-suck of endless connectivity by creating a Family Technology Policy. The Family Technology Policy lays out agreed upon guidelines to balance the best that technology has to offer with real-time, in-person family and social activities.
Every family is different and so each Family Technology Policy will be different. Take a look at the sample Family Technology Policy as a guide.
SMITH FAMILY TECHNOLOGY POLICY
- No devices at the dinner table. All devices are treated equally whether it’s an iPad, TV, tablet, iPhone, or anything that beeps, rings, flashes, or has a screen.
- No screens of any kind open or active after 9 pm.
- No phones within 10 feet of water whether it’s the ocean, a pool, the bathtub, or the toilet.
- No texting in front of grandma because it annoys her and she’d rather talk to you.
- No driver in this family will ever text while driving.
- Hugs, eye contact, and live conversation will dominate in this family over texts, calls, and technology.
- If the sun and school are out, you will find us outdoors without our devices.
Consequences: If the policy is violated, the parents will decide on an appropriate action which may include temporarily limiting usage of a device, curtailment of internet time, putting the device in “time-out”, or other actions.
Step 1 – Have a family meeting
Step 2 – Choose someone to lead the meeting who will explain the need for the policy. (This can be an adult in the family or you can use a neutral third party like a professional organizer.)
Step 3 – Have handy a large flipchart or other visual aid to write on.
Step 4 – Everyone in the family has an equal voice regarding what they think should or should not be in the policy.
Step 5 – Keep it brief. Up to ten bullet points is usually adequate.
Step 6 – Take a vote to officially approve the policy.
Step 7 – Have everyone in the family sign-off on the policy by signing their names to it.
Step 8 – Discuss what will happen if someone ignores the policy or does something that conflicts with the policy. Will there be consequences? Temporarily limiting usage of a device, curtailment of internet time, putting the device in “time-out” are examples of consequences. Write the consequences down.
Step 9 – Post the approved policy and the consequences in a prominent location in the home and send a copy to each family member electronically.
For more organizing tools to cope with the Era of Endless, order the book by Judith Kolberg, Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff is Endless But Time is Not. Available at www.squallpress.net