HomeParentingDigital KidsKids, The Internet and Boundaries February 23, 2010 Setting Boundaries with Kids on the Internet The older our kids get, the more boundaries we have to place on the internet. The internet is a wonderful thing, but one mis-type or curiosity search can lead places that we don’t want our kids to be online. The 6-Year Old Gets a Gmail Account My husband was home with my daughter on President’s Day. I was at work, my phone buzzed – looked down to find an email from my daughter, who’s 6. Her daddy hooked her up with her very own gmail account. How sweet. Until I start getting emails like this: That evening I received 2 emails regarding Z and her new account. My sister in law emailed to inform me that Z is emailing her sales ads from Amazon, asking if she needed to buy her a tv. My friend Mel emailed, apparently Z got ahold of her son’s email address and was emailing him over and over. Who knew, my daughter was a spammer, except her intention is good and not to make money! Something I never thought of was having to teach my children to email. With email being the new form of letter writing, it has to be taught. This includes limiting the number of bouncing icons, fonts, font sizes and colors! Laying Down the Law Here are some basic guidelines my husband and I laid out for our kids using the web: We have made both kids well aware that we have access to everything they do online. We explained that whatever is viewed, emailed or typed we can see. Not that our 6 and 4 year old are all that sneaky YET – but felt it was best to lay this ground work down now because LORD only knows what we’ll be dealing with in a few years. The kids’ computer will be in a public space. (Sorry kiddos, like our policy on no tv’s in the bedroom – you won’t have a computer in your bedroom either.) No Googling! Yes, your Mommy googles EVERYTHING, this is exactly why we’re not exposing you to this. There are certain things you should learn from your parents, not the internet. Any online profile has to be setup by Mom or Dad. This means Webkinz, McDonalds, Littlest Petshop, Barbie, what have you – we will setup for you. Stranger danger – much like you tell your kids, don’t talk to strangers in public places – the internet is just as creepy. This fear is probebly from me watching one too many episodes of “To Catch a Predator”. Short-cuts and bookmarks – we’ve setup several sites as bookmarks and short-cuts and keep the kids in these urls. While their little fingers often click to find another site – we always redirect them back to our approved sites. As much as I hate micro-managers, I’ve become a micro-managing parent when it comes to the digital space. Part of my job is working with teen girls in social media. The lack of understanding of how PUBLIC they are and how what they put online has a lasting effect does not seem to phase most teens. While I am sure my kids will make mistakes, we’re going to at least try to get them started on the right foot. Empowering Kids for the Future Something that I want for my kids is no fear of technology. I honestly believe they have the knowledge to do things because they don’t know they can’t. They will try, ask and learn how to do something because they just know it can be done. While my parents may have a hard time downloading pictures off of a camera or setting up a printer, teaching my children to do these things while they are young will only help leverage their knowledge and build their motivation to learn more. Hence the difference between a digital native and a digital immigrant. There Are Somethings the Internet Shouldn’t Teach. Yes, I’ve learned a lot of what I know (or think I know) from the internet, but somethings should be taught by parents. With Google at my kids’ fingertips they can learn things way before i’m ready. We have to be prepared for this. I don’t want to limit my kids abilities BUT – I think knowledge of certain things at a young age needs to be limited. Innocent Searching – Downloading Viruses Our daughter loves Tinkerbell – so when innocently searching FAIRY GAMES – she came across some interesting web sites. One of those web sites gave her computer a lovely virus. Open DNS We now use Open DNS. This allows us to put limits on what they can see and access online. What online policies do you have for your kids? This tip just in from my new friend @cybersafefamily Tip: When setting up email for kids, don’t use their name in the address, use generic. Check out her site at: cybersafefamily.com 22 Responses Cintia February 23, 2010 Wow, that's very informative, thanks for sharing your rules too. I haven't thought about what we're gonna do but my husband and I agree with the no tv in the bedroom and computers in public places practice. it's gonna be interesting when we visit relatives who have cable in every room of their houses and go by different rules. I'm praying we'll either get collaboration or I'll get the tvs out til we get ready to leave their home. Great post Molly! Reply digitalmomblog February 24, 2010 Oh LAWDY! I can't even imagine how much the web has changed in the last 10 years – to only think what the web will be in another 10… The GOOD is imagine the type of GPS tracking we'll be able to do on our kid's car. Yeah, i'm not too low to do that Reply Amber@theRunaMuck February 24, 2010 Oh, gracious. This gives me the willies. I heard a radio show about teaching our children how to use efficient keywords when doing searches. I had never thought about teaching our children how to be specific, so they could get the most appropriate google results. 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