Cyber Parenting 101
Many parental units are not "techies" and openly admit they are not. They seem to use that as an excuse to not be informed and "trust" their children to do what is right in an environment that is clearly risky. When it comes to underage children being online, there should be a set of household rules that are in place and followed or no online connections are allowed.
n: The rearing of a child or children, especially the care, love, and guidance given by a parent. One who begets, gives birth to, or nurtures and raises a child.
Nothing there about "except when they are online." ;-) Here are my suggestions for technochallenged parental units:
- Keep your computer in an open place such as the family room or rec room. No negotiation here! Online activities are only allowed in this public area - when you are home. Allow a computer connected to the Internet behind a teenager's closed bedroom door and you are asking for trouble!
- Keep your computer and online connection password protected. Use passwords that cannot be guessed by ingenious teenagers. This way, if you are preoccupied or not home, online access is not possible. Change your password on a regular basis when they are not around. Better safe than sorry.
- Advise your children that they are not to give out their full name, address, city, state, phone to ANYONE. Those who they know in their off-line world get this info through traditional means. No reason whatsoever to give out this type of personally identifiable information online to anyone without your knowledge and supervision.
- Learn as much as you can about the Internet, how it really works including how to use your computer and browser so that you are aware of the potential problems your kids can run into. (After they are online, use the drop down bar in your browser's location bar to get a hint of what they have been up to.)
- Be sure to install any one of the many filtering software packages that help prevent your children from being exposed to topics that would make you cringe. Such as:
Software is only a tool - not a replacement for your involvement. Here are several of the many publications I have reviewed and offer on one of my other sites (http://www.TechnoChallenged.com) to get you up to speed:
- Dummies Series "Internet for Dummies"
- CliffsNotes Fast Guides: "Getting on the Internet"
- Computer Basics/2 Panel Laminated Tutorial
Use promo code eArticle and get 10% off your order at checkout! ;-)
You hear stories in the news all the time about police stings, pedophiles making contact with children or wacky teenagers running away to hook up with their newly discovered online love. We all know that as teenagers we didn't know squat in regard to communicating with strangers or what "love" is. Heck, I thought I was in love with Bobby Sherman! Just dated myself didn't I?
Your child's life experience simply is not in place yet to make mature decisions. That's part of life and your children need you to be their guide as they use technology. Watching over your children's online sessions is not an invasion of privacy. In my not so humble opinion, off-spring do not have privacy until they are 18 and move out! (Or is that around 30 now-a-days?) ;-)
Online monitoring is a sign of a caring parent who is involved in the activities and information their children will be exposed to online. Yes, it may be frustrating and require parents to learn some new things along the way. A computer with an online connection is not a babysitter or because we didn't have computers as children an excuse to not be involved.
Learn, get involved and be part of your children's online experiences. Look at it as another activity you can share together!
Judith Kallos is an authoritative and good-humored Technology Muse. Check out her new book: "Because Netiquette Matters! Your Comprehensive Reference Guide to E-mail Etiquette and Proper Technology Use" @: http://www.BecauseNetiquetteMatters.com.