Your Family Needs a Tech Policy

Sarah walked into my 8th grade Language Arts class a little sheepish one morning— and that was unusual. I started teaching and realized Sarah didn’t have her phone out— also unusual. While students worked on the assignment, I asked her what was going on and a nearby friend gleefully offered, “Sarah’s got a flip phone!” 

Turns out, Sarah was supposed to turn in her smartphone every night. Last night, she left the case (face down) on the counter and took her phone to her room. Her mom found out around 1 am and Sarah said goodbye to the smartphone.

We Must Have Standards for Tech Use in Our Homes

To almost every middle school student, taking away their smartphone is the height of Draconian punishment. That may be the case, but Sarah’s parents made a valid point with their discipline and we should all take note: We must have standards for tech use in our homes.

Sarah’s parents didn’t arbitrarily or reactively decide on a punishment that would make them feel better. They followed through on a tech agreement they had with Sarah. It was a gracious if-then agreement: If Sarah was safe and trustworthy, then she could have a smartphone. If she wasn’t, then she got a flip phone.

Tech can be a tool to help us better love God and share His love with others. It can also distract us from Him and others. It can hamper us in our purpose (to know and love God) and hinder us in realizing our God-given potential. Every family can benefit from a tech policy to raise healthy youth in this tech world. Here are three reasons why you need a clear and concise family tech policy:

A Tech Policy Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

Our current reality isn’t the tech world you and I grew up in. Wireless data streams movies and games at lightning speeds to devices tucked into your child’s pocket. It’s not just fast; it’s everywhere. Daily tasks as simple as checking the weather, updating a calendar, contacting a friend or recording a treasured family moment often engage the most cutting-edge technology. 

This ubiquitous tech isn’t passive. Trying to avoid tech boundaries simply leaves your family exposed to trillion dollar companies who have the market research to track your real world purchases, pick shows before you watch them, or even deliver goods to you before you buy them. This is a tech market designed to grow like nothing we’ve seen before in history.

If you don’t have a tech policy, the world and big tech’s got one for you— and it’s not one with your best interest at heart. Drafting and implementing a family tech policy puts you in the driver’s seat. Your family can now intentionally create and practice rhythms of tech use that honor both God and others.

A Tech Policy Puts You All on the Same Team

A tech policy helps you fight alongside, not with, your family when it comes to tech because you create it together and it applies to everyone in your home. It’s an exercise in listening and submission— for everyone. And in the end, you’re all on the same team.

A family tech policy allows you to hear your child and still make clear expectations that are consistent across the family. For younger children, the policy gives an objective standard to remind the family of expectations. For older children, the policy allows them to have a voice in the process and explain their perspective. It doesn’t mean they’re always right, but it does mean they contribute to the policy with greater buy-in.

A Tech Policy Allows You To Parent, Not Police

Good rules have never made good people (Romans 8:3). At best, autocratic rules push your kids underground and they suffer their mistakes alone. Your children aren’t problems to fix; they’re precious people to love. 

A family tech policy starts with simple questions: What is God’s purpose for your child? How can your child best achieve their God-given potential? How can they best love God, love others, and use tech? Does this tech help or hinder their potential? A family tech policy starts by choosing the highest good for them.

Your children aren’t problems to fix; they’re precious people to love.

We don’t apply accountability software because we fear the internet, but because we love our kids and want to ensure open dialogue and communication about whatever may come up— either good or bad. It’s not about reading your child’s diary; it’s about loving them no matter how bad they mess up. Their tech access might need to increase or decrease, but those decisions are made in love and hope, not fear and anger. 

A family tech policy isn’t about making the hard choices for your child. It’s about discipling your child and teaching them to make their own decisions in a tech world.

Choose Hope In a Tech World

At the end of the day, a family tech policy best emulates the way God treats us. He doesn’t rule with an iron hammer. He is notable for his long-suffering and steadfast love (Psalm 86:5, Exodus 34:6). He doesn’t micromanage our decisions— Adam and Eve were allowed to pick off the tree after all! But he also doesn’t let us go when we fail (2 Timothy 2:13). 

You don’t need to know every app, game, meme, and gif on the internet— you know and love your child. That’s a strong place to build a relationship and a great place to start a conversation.

Curious about what our family tech policy actually looks like? Need a sample to work off of as you craft your own? Check out our next post here.