Establishing a Family Online Safety Contract

February 16, 2017

Parents often ask how to get started with online safety conversations at home and what rules they should establish for their families. At FOSI, we encourage the conversations to start early and often since your children are going online and getting their own devices at younger and younger ages.

One way to set some household rules is to establish a family safety contract. You can sit down with your kids and talk about your expectations for responsible technology use. This gives you a chance to think about and discuss where devices can and can’t be used, whether you will be using parental controls, what kids should do if they come across inappropriate behavior or content online, and what consequences kids might face if they are breaking some of the family technology rules.

Your kids can review their side of the agreement and talk about what they will do to behave responsibly online. This includes not over-sharing personal information, treating other people respectfully, telling parents about who they are communicating with online, and helping parents learn more about the Internet.

Take a look at FOSI’s model contract and use it as a guide to talk through your household rules, come to an agreement with your family, and print it out and post it on the fridge or another visible place a reminder about how you expect everyone to conduct themselves online. By talking about it, writing down the rules and consequences, and modeling good digital habits for your kids, this is a great way to ensure a safer online experience for your family.

Does taking these steps make you wonder if it's the right time to give your child their first phone? Here are some questions and tools to consider from Verizon's Family Tech resource, one of our Good Digital Parenting sponsors.

Written by

Jennifer Hanley

Jennifer Hanley is the Vice President of Legal and Policy for the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI). Jennifer directs FOSI’s government outreach and policy strategy. Jennifer helps FOSI build relationships with government officials as well as external partnerships and advises leading technology companies on best practices, policy developments, and emerging issues around online safety. Jennifer implements FOSI’s global projects and initiatives and manages the Washington, D.C. staff team. She also leads FOSI’s research work. Jennifer develops policy positions on Internet safety issues including online privacy, mobile safety, cyberbullying, sexting, controversial content, student data privacy, encouraging positive online content for kids, and federal and state legislation and regulations. Jennifer also represents FOSI on panels and in the press.

Jennifer is a magna cum laude graduate of the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where she served as a Vice Chancellor on the CUA Moot Court Board and as the Vice President of the Communications Law Students Association. Jennifer held legal internships with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, EchoStar, and Comcast. Jennifer graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the George Washington University where she studied Political Science.