Emma Bunton: How I Created Tech Ground Rules For My Kids

Emma Bunton
Emma Bunton and her family sign up for the Vodafone Pledge. Copyright: Andrew Fosker / Pinpep
Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton on why it's important to set tech ground rules – and stick to them.

Radio presenter and Spice Girl Emma Bunton has launched a new online tool to help families create tech ground rules together and turn them into a family pledge.

The free, personalised and interactive activity, which she’s launched together with Vodafone, helps families to set their digital ‘house rules’ in an easy, fun way. All family members agree to stick to the pledge – parents included!

“The Digital Family Pledge is a really simple way of getting up to speed on the latest facts, sparking a conversation and agreeing some boundaries together,” Emma says.

“The kids are at that age where they want to play with new apps and games and are getting more interested in social media. At the end of the day, it’s about being open and finding the right balance and the Pledge is a great way to help families do this.”

The pledge covers everything from rules about devices at the dinner table to how family members will use social media. The online tool encourages positive conversations about the role of technology in a family’s life.

The tool was launched after new research looking into the digital wellbeing of families in the UK, commissioned by Vodafone in partnership with YouGov, revealed that 54% of parents say they aren’t aware of what their children are doing online; yet they don’t feel prepared to have conversations as a family, with almost four in 10 parents stating that they’ve never been given advice on their children’s online behaviour.

Four in 10 (40%) of parents also worry that their children are hiding online activity from them, with this rising to over half (52%) for parents of older children (12-16 years).

Vodafone challenged the Bunton-Jones family to take the Digital Family Pledge and make a commitment to each other about how they will use tech and act online.

Here are Vodafone Digital Parenting ambassador Emma Bunton’s  top tips on how to she makes it work for her family:

1. Set ground rules as a family

My first tip would be to set ground rules as a family. Using the pledge helped us to work as a family to decide what the rules should be together, so we weren’t just dictating them to Beau and Tate. It also got me and my partner, Jade, to think about our own habits.

2. Use tech together

Instead of worrying so much about what our kids are doing online we now try to get involved. It’s impossible to be there all the time, but we might watch YouTube videos together or Jade and Beau will game online.

3. Quality over quantity

I used to think that it was all about managing the time the kids spent online. But I’ve realised it’s more important to focus on what they’re doing online rather than the exact amount of time spent.

If they’re watching and playing the right stuff, it can be really educational and beneficial to their development.

4. Lead by example

It’s not just about the children, I realise that Jade and I are guilty of sneaking a look at our phones at the table or getting distracted by work emails. We’re using the Digital Pledge to set limits for ourselves too!

5. Be kind online

Being in the spotlight, I’ve had plenty of experience with people being unkind online and I’ve worried about what Beau and Tate see there.

My final tip is to remind everyone that they need to think about what they say online remember that there’s a person at the other end of the screen who might be upset by unkind comments.

  • Vodafone’s Digital Parenting is a free resource that offers the latest information and advice from researchers, psychologists and tech savvy parents. Launched as a free print magazine for schools, local authorities and GPs surgeries in 2012, and available online, Digital Parenting has served as an easy-to-digest resource for families for almost a decade.   The January issue of Digital Parenting magazine is available now.
  • The Digital Family Pledge is available now at www.vodafone.co.uk/familypledge. To request a copy of Digital Parenting magazine, see Emma Bunton’s tips on finding a good digital-life balance or find out more about the Digital Parenting workshops and in-store tech masterclasses near you please visit www.vodafone.co.uk/digitalparenting.
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