Recently, I was asked how to monitor kids' computer time and teach them to use the Internet responsibly.
The first thing to teach your kids is that the Internet use is a privilege, not a right. Our family computer must have a code entered to be used. My husband and I are the only ones that know the code. Before my kids can use the computer the need to complete chores and homework, then I will type in the code for them.
Our three kids share the family computer. Each of them can take 30 minute turns. They are responsible to set their own timer, I don’t police the turns. We have a schedule and each day a new kid is “judge” over the fairness of the turns. If there is a dispute, the judge for the day decides what’s fair. The dispute can go to a “higher court” but, they don’t like the way I resolve the disputes, I just shut the computer down. All three kids are very motivated to settle disputes for themselves to avoid mom’s hard hammer of justice.
Our computer is located in the family room. The last thing kids need is privacy with their computer. The Internet is a public place just like any other. Certainly you wouldn’t let your 8-year-old wander around town alone, the Internet is no exception. Whether your child is seven or 17 move those computers out of the bedroom and back into the common areas of the house. Kids with unfettered access to the Internet run a great risk of being victims of identity theft, cyber-bulling, cyber stalkers, and pornography addiction.
Keep your kids off of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for as long as possible. Facebook’s own recommendation is 13 and up. When you decide they are ready for their own social media account, talk to your kids about what they post on Facebook or Twitter. Remind them that what they say is public, and if it's harassing, humiliating, threatening, or disrespectful, consequences can result.
Finally, if your kids are going to be on social media, you should be to. I am surprised when I hear moms say that their kid has a Facebook account, but they don’t. Keep kids safe and accountable by being in-the-know when it comes to social media.
Now it’s your turn. How do you monitor and teach your kids to use the Internet responsibly? What’s worked for you and your family?