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7 Rules to Protect Your Children Online

(Originally appeared in Securing the Human)

The Internet is a powerful tool we want all of our children to learn how to use and leverage. However it also comes with certain risks. Having a set of agreed upon rules can help mitigate them:

1. Each child has their own, dedicated non-privileged account on the family computer. You may use this account for personal activities including gaming or talking with friends. There is a separate, shared account on the computer just for homework. You may use this account only for homework or any educational purposes, such as khanacademy.com or wikipedia.com. You may not use the homework account for gaming.

2. Each child gets thirty minutes of personal computer use per day during weekdays and one hour personal computer use per day on weekends. Time on the homework account is unlimited, but is limited to educational activities only. Time and activities are enforced through parental controls.

3. You may only use mobile devices during certain times of the day. Specifically, on weekdays you may use mobile devices for no more than 30 minutes between 3:30pm and 7:30pm, and on weekends no more than 60 minutes between 8:00am and 7:30pm. When you are not using mobile devices they must be at the family charging station.

4. Each child will be responsible for maintaining their own accounts, including remembering their own passwords.

5. Each child promises to tell Mom or Dad if any strangers ask them odd questions or keeps trying to talk to them, if any friends are mean to them, or if they find any websites that are scary or they do not understand. You will never get in trouble for letting Mom or Dad know you feel uncomfortable, asking questions or letting them know you need help.

6. When asked by a parent to leave the computer or mobile you have fifteen seconds to pause the computer or log off.

7. Access to technology is a privilege, not a right. When you fail to follow these rules, punishment can include being banned from using computers or mobile devices.

Talk to your kids about risks of being online. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you about anything they do not understand or are afraid of. Education is the best security measure you can take, technology is changing too fast for technology to solve you and your children’s problems.

How do you plan to institute these rules in your children’s online time? Tell us in the comments.

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