Our Home “Electronics Use Policy”

August 19, 2011 at 12:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

By request, this is how we manage my teenage step-daughter’s screen time.  She’ll be 17 in November.  We followed this policy all summer and I was actually stunned at the way the “static” over her laptop simply vanished.  One day she was late coming home and didn’t call.  We took away her phone until she finished her work the next day – and she was done with everything on the list before noon.

Electronics Use Policy


Businesses commonly have a ‘computer use policy’ that all employees sign upon hiring.  It reminds employees that all computer equipment is provided for business purposes only.  Employees are advised that the company may review any information they store on the computer, including personal e-mail.  Certain web sites may be off limits and certain activities are prohibited and can lead to termination.

Similarly, we have an electronics use policy.  A laptop has been provided specifically for homework and educational purposes.  Conflicts over its use have led to restrictions and revocation of usage privileges.  Its availability remains subject to strict adherence to the electronics use policy herein defined.


  1. Laptop is to be checked out for use only after day’s duties have been completed.  Permission must be requested politely and will be granted based on review of tasks and academic work.
  2. Laptop is to be checked in at or before 10:00 pm and is not to be kept in bedroom overnight.
  3. Laptop time may be earned according to formal guidelines.
  4. Laptop time may not be used during family time.
  5. Laptop use can and will be restricted if household rules are not followed.
  6. E-mail, documents, and web search history will continue to be considered private unless cause is given to indicate increased supervision is necessary.
  7. Web site access will continue to be unlimited unless cause is given to indicate increased supervision is necessary.
  8. Electronics use policy may cover, but is not limited to, laptop, television, and phone.  Use of these items is a privilege, not a right, and their use is considered of lowest possible priority after other educational, family, health, professional, and recreational purposes.


I acknowledge receipt of the Electronics Use Policy.



___________________________      __________

Signature                                              Date


Here is the companion document:

Earning Laptop Time


Daily Requirements

  1. Be showered and dressed
  2. Make bed
  3. Wipe counter after breakfast
  4. Unload dishwasher and dish rack, load breakfast dishes
  5. Chores done, if any (clean bathroom, put away laundry, clean up yard)
  6. Walk dog: minimum half hour
  7. Essay
  8. Essay re-write
  9. Vocabulary worksheet – write 10 words from SAT flashcards with definition and sample sentence in your own words
  10. Any additional assigned worksheets and corrections
  11. PSAT book: minimum half hour
  12. Read non-illustrated novel or non-fiction book: minimum one hour


Meeting daily requirements earns one hour of unsupervised laptop time to be used in accordance with Electronics Use Policy.  Goal is to teach independent work habits.


Additional Time


Additional time may be earned in 30-minute increments as supervised.

30-59 minutes = 30 minutes

60-89 minutes = 60 minutes


Ratios denote time spent to time earned.  A 1:2 ratio means 30 minutes earns one hour.


Note that activities are weighted to encourage certain activities over others.  Writing a research paper earns the most time, but requires use of earned time to complete.  Writing a book report is also a high earner because it requires reading an entire book first.


Academic activity

  • Extra vocabulary worksheets – one page earns 30 minutes
  • Extra writing or math worksheets – one page earns 30 minutes
  • Current events report – half page read at dinner earns 30 minutes
  • Book reports (on approved titles) – one page earns 2 hours
  • Research paper (on approved topics) – 3 pages earns 4 hours, 5 pages earns 8 hours
  • Research paper outline – earns 30 minutes, not necessary to develop into paper
  • Rewrites of any ‘extra’ writing assignment – one page earns 30 minutes


Family activity

  • Call Grandma or cousins – 1:1 ratio
  • Write letters to Grandma or cousins – one page earns 30 minutes


Physical activity

  • Running – 1:2 ratio
  • Walking – 1:1 ratio
  • Riding bike – 1:1 ratio (riding to library earns bonus hour on library computer)
    • Library: 6.2 mile round trip, >60 minutes
    • Safeway: 2 mile round trip, >20 minutes
    • Convenience store across from firehouse: 2 mile round trip, >20 minutes
  • Going to swimming pool – 1:1 ratio (making a new friend earns bonus hour)


Vocational training

  • Hired for formal job or internship that requires résumé, application, and interview – unlimited time for duration of employment
  • Hired “under the table” for job – to be negotiated
  • Start own business – to be negotiated depending on review of earnings
  • Babysitting for pay – 2:1 ratio
  • Extra chores – 1:1 ratio (can be done daily if desired unless otherwise designated)
    • Clean microwaves inside and out
    • Sweep and mop tile floors, including both bathrooms and moving all furniture and trash cans out of the way
    • Vacuum carpeted areas
    • Vacuum/spot clean couch
    • Wash and dry dog bedding and set it up again (maximum once/week)
    • Groom dog (brush him outside)
    • Sweep porch, including cobwebs
    • Take out garbage, compost, and recycling
    • Mow lawn (maximum once/week)
    • Cook dinner (unassisted)
    • Grocery shopping
    • Family errands (take dog to vet, get oil changed in truck, etc)
  • Work on game design project – discuss with project supervisor
  • Other tasks or commitments as negotiated


Life skills

  • Budget worksheets – one page earns two hours
  • Write résumé – one page earns one hour
  • College research worksheets – one page earns one hour
  • Mending/altering clothes – 1:1 ratio (sew buttons, hems, darning, etc)
  • Sewing machine use – 1:1 ratio (projects as negotiated)
  • Power tool use – 1:1 ratio (as supervised)
  • Home repairs – 1:1 ratio (hand and power tools)
  • Bike maintenance – 1:1 ratio (pump tires, change flat, install accessories)
  • Kitchen appliance use – 1:1 ratio (food processor, rice cooker, etc)
  • First aid/safety classes – 2:1 ratio
She is now pediatric first aid and CPR certified (though she didn’t ask for the laptop time she was entitled to), and she walked 30 miles a week to the library and back all summer.  When I took her shopping for school clothes this week, she had dropped a size from last year.  She never did anything else on the list, though; it turned out she was usually satisfied with the free hour she got at the library.  She only wound up asking to use her laptop time 2-3 days a week and she’s racked up, gosh, 17 hours and 45 minutes!


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  1. Wow, I’m impressed. My children spend a lot of time using computers, ipods, and cell phones. I may have to copy this for use in our house. 🙂

  2. Thank you for posting this. I think it is really important, as you mentioned in a previous post, to train kids to use electronics responsibly. My daughter is still a baby, but she already knows how to unlock my iPhone, open my laptop, and use the remotes. I’m already feeling the pressure to make sure she understands the responsibility that accompanies these items that appear to be toys.

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