The musings of an empathetic mum, teacher, leader and global digital citizen
(aka Mrs V)

PART 9: TechSpectations

Let’s Set the Scene…

It is 5pm the night before, and it is go time!

H-Man, have you got your camp gear packed? A, you need your black school shoes, E, time to hop up and lay out your uniform for tomorrow!

Radio Silence. Nothing. Actually, if there is a level lower than nothing then I think we found it.

And so I tried again.

“H-man — Is your camp gear ready? A — How are those shoes going? E — C’mon Hun, let’s get that uniform ready!”

Crickets’ — that’s right, not the bat and ball kind, but the little green insect kind.

OK, time to change tact. Let’s get Daddy onto it.

“Hey, Hun — can you help me get the kids going… it’s school tomorrow?”


… End Scene 🙂   (Don’t you love how I ended it there!)



For many parents, this scene was replicated each night over the past week and a half. The excitement of holiday-tech has finally collided with the reality of back to school. The hopeful plans we held for a low-tech, outside-play-based holiday was quickly — or perhaps slowly and stealthily — replaced with endless hours of screen time. And so we find ourselves in the throes of Technology Withdrawal.

The reestablishment of any routine takes time, effort and patience. Above all it requires a consistent approach to be successful. In previous Tech T@lks we have highlighted the importance of communication between parents and their children, and this skill is more critical than ever as we battle to regain our ‘family-to-technology ratio’.

In society we are consistently provided with guidelines for just about anything we use. There are road rules for safety, there are rules to govern good order, and economic boundaries as well. In today’s world parents have to create guidelines when it comes to technology so their children can learn to use and not abuse the devices they own. Now, while a lot of people would agree that kids need technology rules, what about their parents? Do we need rules too — and if so, I wonder what rules our kids would make for us?

In 2016, researchers at Michigan University undertook a project to unpack what technology rules parents feel are important for children and vice versa. While both parents and children have difficulty at times following household rules, the research found that children found rules easier to follow when they were developed as a family and when their parents followed them too. It makes for some very interesting reading.

Researchers asked parent-child pairs about their household’s most important technology rules and whether or not they were effective. They also asked kids, ages 10 to 17 years, what technology rules they would put in place for parents… some of the findings may surprise you.

So let’s take a look at the Top 10 Rules the parents identified for their children:

  1. Be Present – Put the device away when we are talking or doing something together.
  2. Supervise – Household technology rules that are enforced.
  3. Privacy – Play it smart when you are online and don’t share personal identification information.
  4. Moderate Use – Learn how to use your devices in moderation, and balance usage with your other activities.
  5. No Oversharing – Be respectful of privacy and don’t share too much information online.
  6. Model appropriate electronic use for children – Be a LEADER and model the way for appropriate device usage. 
  7. Time-bound – Set limits for your phone use.
  8. Not while Driving – Don’t use the phone when you are driving and don’t text (not even at a traffic light).
  9. Be Kind – Treat others with respect and kindness online.
  10. No Sexual Content – Don’t share or view sexually explicit photos or videos.

And now for the children. These are the Top 7 Rules the children identified for their parents:

  1. Be Present – Pay ATTENTION to me. Basically, don’t use your devices when you’re spending quality time with me, like when I am trying to talk with you or we are doing something with one another.
  2. Don’t Overshare (aka SHARENT) – Don’t post stuff about me online without my permission.  
  3. Digital Autonomy – Give me some space when I use my devices.
  4. Digital Moderation – Learn to balance technology and your everyday life. 
  5. Provide Supervision – It’s okay to have rules that are for my own good and protection.
  6. Don’t Text and Drive – Don’t text and drive, even when you’re at a red light.
  7. Don’t be a Hypocrite – Practice what you preach. If I can’t use my phone at dinner, neither can you – so put it away.

Something to ponder: In this study parents reported that it was okay to have a different set of standards for themselves than for their kids, however, according to the kids — that is hypocritical. Children also reported that it was easier to follow the rules when families had developed them together and when everyone had to follow them.

So when it all boils down, there is a basic understanding that parents and children are virtually in the same boat when it comes to household TechSpectations. The primary area of agreement was the need for each other to “be present”. This concept speaks volumes about how we want our kids to pay attention to us, and in return they so desperately want us to pay attention to them.

Weekly Challenge: Here is a quick change you can make in your household right now to ensure you have some technology-free time with your family — create a place to set aside the electronic devices when you get home. Put them off limits for a specified amount of time (negotiated together), perhaps until after dinner. Make it a household priority to be present and spend quality time with one another.

All my love 

 Mrs V xox

(Novice Minecraft player, Level 11 Clash Royale Clan Leader, firm but loving digital parent, mistake-maker and Head of Junior School)