It’s been a sudden and unusual routine in our house since the Christmas break that our teenager has been asking for more computer time, which is not something he’s done before. Of course his first stop into the social networking hive is Facebook. I mean that is where all the kids meet and greet one another, share pics and posts on things that interest them.
Does it worry me? Of course it does. But we have set some ground rules for our son that I think all parents should follow when introducing the buzz of socializing online in order to keep our teen safe from the pitfalls and traps that can often land kids in trouble.
Setting Rule For Online Usage Helps Keep Kids Safe!
These are the rules our son must follow in order to enjoy his time online.
1.) No visiting sites like PartyCasino.com or Adult chat rooms. These sites are for adult enjoyment only and not for kids. Sure chatting and playing games online are fun, but make sure they are age appropriate.
2.) Respect your friends online the way you would expect them to respect you, and their parents as well. This means no swearing at one another, no foul talk, no rudeness even in a joking manner. Remember other parents are monitoring their children’s activities. Do you want to be the one known as the kids who has a foul mouth?
3.) No posting pictures of yourself you will later be ashamed of, no nude photos, no body shots without a shirt on. Everything online is viral. You might be a police man or teacher one day and you don’t want a pic of you chugging beer and smoking weed to end up coming back to bite you. Your online usage is a reflection of who you are. So set the right examples starting now!
4.) Your time online will be monitored. You will be allowed online time no later than 8pm each night and for a period of no longer than a one hour interval per night (unless it is for school). You will go outside, you will hang out with friends and converse one on one with them, without being dialed in or hooked on a device. You need to learn that being social doesn’t mean texting or voice mail. It means communicating with people eye to eye through conversation that can enlighten and help you grow and learn.
5.) You will always share your passwords with us (your parents) and never give them out to anyone or change them without us knowing. You will allow us access to all your social accounts which includes Facebook, Twitter and game sites. This is for your own protection. Not following this rule is a breach of your online usage and will result in a termination of your privileges for a term no less than six months.
6.) You will never post anything with your location attached to it. Nor will you ever meet or greet anyone from the online world that we have not met beforehand in person. Sometimes people pretend to be something they aren’t.
No matter what we do as parents to keep our kids safe online, the number one thing we can do is to be open and honest with our kids. By sharing rules and setting boundaries we are not only helping our kids learn what is safe and what is not. It teaches them that setting rules for themselves, being diciplined with electronics and time spent online, gives them the freedom to enjoy life rather than be a slave to the electronic devices that are available to us.