December 12, 2012 - The bane of a parent's existence (aside from dubious folks hanging 'round kids) is technology. Now, I don't want to sound like an apostle of Ted Kaczynski, but dang it . . . technology has brought a whole new level of angst into child-rearing.
Some school districts are handing every kid a world wide (wild) web connecting device known as the tablet. For those not in the know a tablet-like device is a little portable computer. I've done some research on these tablet-like devices and found there are no parental controls or blocks. Any where there is free wi-fi internet, kids can access anything. And, I do mean anything.
As the holidays are just a few weeks away and many parents are being harangued into purchasing tablet-type devices, thought I'd share with you what the Rush children had to endure for their devices. I wrote the following "contract" the lads had to sign before they were able to get their mitts on "their" tablets. Their mother and I also signed. It sets the ground rules and once again proves I am the meanest dad in town. Parents enjoy. Kids, cringe. Ho, ho, ho and Merry Christmas.
With much opportunity comes much responsibility. The tablet is first and foremost a tool; it is a tool to help you organize your day, keep track of homework assignments and school projects. Your parents and teachers trust you enough to give you this opportunity, while others in your class do not have this opportunity. As such, we all need to know what the ground rules are for usage. This is also an exercise in judgment building — the better judgment you show, the more trust you build.
We have researched this, discussed this and have come up with these simple (common sense) rules.
Before using first time READ all instructions. Whenever using, wash hands before using — do not use while eating or drinking.
1. Parents know all passwords and as such reserve the right to periodically check device usage. No vulgarities or inappropriate usage whatsoever will be allowed.
2. New apps must be discussed with parents — before downloading, or first opportunity. For example, there may be an app for school that you can download to help you. We may not be there. You may download it, but when you see us, you must notify us.
3. Up to two games only will be allowed on device.
4. Ear buds — to avoid damaging your hearing, volume no higher than medium.
5. When Wi-Fi is on, all research and school work and entertainment will be done outside bedroom — in the dining or living room.
6. Wi-Fi is off at 9 p.m.
7. Put the tablet on Mom or Dad's night table by 10.
8. Do not reset the operating system or install another OS – you will void the warranty.
1. Work before play. School work and chores must be done before device can be used for recreation/game playing. You may use the device for homework and school projects, but nothing "fun" until chores and school work is completed.
2. Do not leave device in unsafe place. Store it in regular location at home while not in use. Keep power charger and any instructions/boxes in one place. Keep the case on.
3. This device can only be used up to two hours at a time maximum. After such time MANDATORY breaks are required. Turn off device, charge it. Get outside — do anything but stare at a screen.
4. Never run battery down to zero. This will shorten life of battery. (Again, refer to owner's manual).
1. Notify all teachers you were given permission to use device and have a plan for usage. It may be they will not let you bring out or use during class – if so, you must respect their decision. If this is the case, input data, reminders or calendar items after class. Remember, your classmates may not have this opportunity you have been given. Use it wisely and with discretion. It may come to pass this device is not to be used during any class.
2. Remember this is a tool for you to help organize your school work and not a toy — this device is not to be used for entertainment during school hours.
3. This device is not to be used for or by friends.
By signing this document I declare that I have been given the opportunity to ask questions regarding any of the above terms, that I will abide by the terms outlined above and that my tablet will be confiscated should any of the terms be violated or if my usage of the tablet is malicious, destructive, unhealthy, or morally questionable at any time.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org