Monday, January 21, 2013

Negotiated Technology

I heard about the social media contract from a friend at book group. We were discussing technology, social media, texting and how to set parameters when the internet comes in an iPhone box small enough for most kids to carry around in their jean pockets.

Two days later I told Child #1 she needed to sign a technology contract. "What do you  mean?" she asked, hackles raised like an attack dog.

"Oh, just a contract governing the terms of your use," I said lightly, because even though I've known her for almost eleven years I still forget how she can slip into trial attorney on cross-exam mode at a moment's notice.

We got home and she snatched the sheets of paper from the printer as they came out. "Umm, Mom. We need to talk about some of these terms."

By this time I was in lawyer mode too and told her to save her questions until she'd finished reading the entire thing. In response she grabbed a highlighter and a ballpoint pen and started making notes.

The first provision under fire was Number 8. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.

"What if I want to talk about your birthday gift or Christmas gift? It's overbroad," she argued. We added the words "because it would disappoint or anger them" at the end of the first sentence.

The negotiations continued.

We modified the word parent to make it clear she is subject only to my parental standards, as opposed to parental standards in general.

We struck provision #12, dealing with picture and video taking, in its entirety, because I couldn't define a zillion and was unable to come come up with a counterargument to, "But what if I decide I want to be a photographer or videotographer?!?"

Talk to strangers was also deleted. "Are you serious? You want me to talk to strangers? You don't even let me open the door for strangers."

We reached the end of the contract and I thought our negotiations were finished. But they weren't.  "I'd like to add a clause of my own," she said and started furiously scribbling on the back of the page. Her clause, which I accepted in its entirety, reads as follows
I, ("Mom and Dad") will not play any games, change the passcode of this iTouch or pretend to be me ("Child #1"). After I look at the iTouch I will put it back where I found it. I will not send any emails or texts from this iTouch and I will not delete any pictures or videos.
We signed the contract.

And then I started calculating the cost of law school tuition approximately 12 years from now.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She's good! She definitely has a future in the legal system.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Wow, quite the little negotiator. Good luck with that! ;)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Yup. I see law school in her future!

Connie J Jasperson said...

OMG! Harvard or Yale!

Tonja said...

That was a good clause she added. Smart girl.

The difficulty with contracts with kids is the loop-holes they find. The only contract my daughter and I currently have in writing is related to GPA and the award of a belly-button ring should she get that GPA. I might be a bad/desperate parent. Just wait until she starts driving *sigh*.

jaybird said...

A legal eagle in the making. I guess it's just in the genes!!

Emily R. King said...

Ha! You have one smart kid.

ilima said...

No kidding about the lawyer thing. And I think I need to do this contract thing with my kids too. Send me a copy? ;)

Barbara Watson said...

Ahhhh. Yes. Such a tough thing to 'parent' -- that of the internet. Trust is key with my kids; if they break it, there are severe consequences. (LOVE your daughter's negotiations!)

Jenny S. Morris said...

Oh man, you are in for it. Plus this is a great idea. Maybe I'll have you draw up my contract when my kids get old enough. ;)

Brenda McKenna said...

If my five-year-old could read well enough, I'd come up with a contract for him, too (no going on Youtube--ever!--from Angry Birds on the phone). I love how clever your daughter is, and I think you're a great parent for letting her be part of the contract process!

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, yes, I believe so.

Thanks Rachel. I need the luck.

Dianne, sadly tuition seems to be skyrocketing.

LOL Connie!

Tonja, I liked her clause too.

Jaybird, so true :)

Thanks Emily.

Ilima, there's a link to the contract that was first published in Huffington Post.

Barbara, we're all about natural consequences.

Jenny, I can forward you the completed copy of mine when you're ready :)

Thanks Brenda :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Your daughter is way too smart. When we were kids, all we had to worry about were our parents finding and reading our diary.

Lisa Gail Green said...

What a great idea! I think I need to do this with my own kids.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Funny. Kids are really to bright for their own good.

Ali Cross said...

Good for her AND you! I love that you didn't just dictate your terms, but that you made a determination TOGETHER.

I also totally want to see your contract so I can steal it!

Unknown said...

You do have a lawyer in the making, Johanna. You had better start saving. :)

As for your question on my blog regarding NA novels, here's my Goodread's list. I think this is all of the one's I've read so far. But I could be wrong.

The Bookworm said...

I see law school in her future! She's got negotiating skills. I need to do contracts with my own kids, thanks for the idea.

Chuck said...

Does she have a business card yet? I may want to hire her for future management negotiations. She's should be proud.

Oh BTW, I believe the cost of law school 12 years from now to be a zillion may use that in your rebuttal to clause 12. However her point on the photo/video profession has its merits.

You have raised her well!!

Mark Koopmans said...

Can I get a copy of the contract, too? My wife wants *me* to sign it :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

lol, Love it!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Wow. Your funny description of her and those pictures make her sound like she will be a very good lawyer someday. I think a social media contract is a good idea, though. It's good for parents to be up to speed with what their kids are doing online.

Carrie Butler said...

I love your family dynamic! :)

Tammy Theriault said...

This is too funny. She gets her smarts from you for sure!

Anonymous said...

This is why I'm glad my wife is a contract negotiator. However, I'm the mediator between her and the kids. This is going to be great. :o|

~Sia McKye~ said...

I hadn't read/missed this one. I laughed and giggled all the way through it.
You don't have to be the offspring of attorneys to start these sort of negotiations. While I might not be an attorney, I am damn good negotiator, great with over coming objections, and offering some good counter arguments. Now, I don't say this with the intent to blow my own horn. We do these sort of things everyday and it's natural to us. Our kids observe us day in and day out and face it, it's OJT all the way. So when we are on the receiving end of that OJT put into practice, it tends to blow the the mind, lol!

Inside, you're fighting back the laughter,sometimes frustration, and equal measure of awareness of what your child could be. You're proud.

And going through all that with offspring myself, this whole thing tickled my funny bone. Love the pics too.