*With the kids spending more time on the computers since school is out I wanted to re-post an article that I wrote a couple years back.**
Keeping Our Children Safe While On The World Wide Web
There are one or two computers in most homes these days. And most children want their own laptop and cell phone. With so much adult content available on the World Wide Web it is our duty as responsible parents to know what web sites our kids are visiting and who they are talking to. I want to protect my children from uncontrolled exposure to grown up topics like sex and drugs. These are subjects that should be learned about in the proper environment when the time is right, not from a Google search.
While planning a family vacation not long ago we did a simple search for “Disney”. A word associated with family fun brought up a naked woman with Mickey Mouse painted on her body. Guess what body parts were his ears. This shows how fast things can get x-rated.
Here are some practical tips we use in our home.
* Have your computer in a common area. Ours is in the office which is viewable by everyone in the living room. In my opinion, a bedroom is no place for a computer that has internet access. I feel the same way about TV’s too but that is a different topic altogether.
* Set a time limit for computer usage and STICK TO IT! Don’t let the whining wear you down. You are the parent and ruler of all! On school nights each child has 30 minutes of fun free time on the internet. On weekends they are allowed more time. This limit doesn’t include time spent on the computer for homework or school projects.
* Learn how to limit and/or block access on your computers. (How you do this depends on what operating system or browser you use.) Our children have to ask permission to gain access to new sites by sending me an email. I can check out the site they want to visit then unlock access to it or block.
Even sites like “YouTube” and “Google” are blocked. Remember my Disney fiasco using Google?
* Keep track of passwords. If my children want to join something, like the popular social networking site MySpace or Facebook, I must know their password. Because they know I can pop over anytime to review their online activity they make more responsible decisions.
* Manage these social groups carefully. My children aren’t allowed to talk to anyone unless they know them in person. Their profile must be kept private, only for family and friends (that I approve of) to view. And no posting photos until they are approved by us.
I really don’t care how good you think you look flashing that silly gang sign. It’s not going to be your profile picture.
All of the suggestions above work really well for our family. With everything now available at our children’s fingertips it is our responsibility to keep them safe.
Does this make me an unreasonable parent? No, it makes me a responsible parent.
Are my children missing out? No, they are given a safe environment to learn and grow.