The computer draws in kids of all ages with its vast and varied options for information and entertainment. If you make a computer available for your kids, a set of family rules needs to go along with it. By attaching rules to computer use, you help keep your kids safe from potential dangers.
It can be easy to lose track of time on the computer, for people of any age. Avoid this situation for your kids by instituting time limits on computer use, suggests the North Carolina Department of Justice. You might wish to set a designated starting and ending time each day for computer use, after your kids have finished other obligations. Some parental control software includes timer capabilities to allow Internet access for a specific length or period of time each day. When the time elapses, Internet access stops automatically.
Explain privacy rules to your kids so they understand what not to do on the Internet. Privacy rules should include keeping their full name, address, telephone number, geographical location and any other personally identifying information off the Internet, states the University of Oklahoma Kidsafe website. Privacy rules should also include not uploading personal photos or videos to the Internet without parental permission and supervision. Caution your child to stay away from any strangers who approach her on the Internet. She should not engage strangers in conversation, especially if they are encouraging her to share personal information.
By approaching computer use as a privilege and not a right, you keep it in the proper perspective with your kids. With the completion of other responsibilities -- such as homework and chores -- and as long as the kids agree to follow your rules of conduct and your guidelines, they can use the computer. If your kids do not complete their other responsibilities, they won’t have the privilege of using the computer. If your kids do not follow the computer rules, you won’t grant them access to the computer. Computer time can be an effective way to motivate responsibility.
Stringent monitoring of children’s computer usage is imperative to keep them safe online, states the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Place computers in a common room of the house to enable you to monitor computer time while your child is using it. Explain to your child that computer use is not private or confidential. Share an email account with your child to enable you to monitor communication. Check Internet history regularly to ensure that your child is not visiting unsafe websites such as chat forums. Monitor your child’s activity on social networking websites -- joining these websites yourself is an easy way to monitor your child's activity. Encourage your child to come and tell you about incidents that make him uncomfortable.