You’ve probably been putting it off. You know you need to have “the talk” but you don’t know how to start the conversation. Or maybe you’re worried they already know too much – maybe even more than you do! No, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees. But when you think about it, talking with your kids about online safety is a lot like talking with your kids about sex:
- You have to start the conversation earlier than you might think
- You have to follow-up often and add more information over the years
- You want to make sure they have the facts
- You want them to learn to be responsible and stay safe
Don’t fret, if you’re not sure how to start the conversation about online safety, there are a number of resources available. And most likely it will be less nerve-wracking for all of you than having the “other” talk.
Start the Conversation
OnGuard Online is a website from the FTC to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. There is a section on their site “Talk to your Kids” which offers tips for parents of younger children, tweens and teens. Kids are using computers as soon as they start school – or even earlier, at home on the family computer or tablet – so it’s never too early to start.
Watch their video for a few ideas on getting a conversation started.
Family Online Media Agreements
My other suggestion is to create an online media agreement with your children. These checklists and contracts not only provide a great conversation starter for setting ground rules for family internet and gadget use, but also give you a method for laying out clear expectations and establishing consequences.
From Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media, a resource I recommend every chance I get, has Family Media Agreements available for download. I like that they offer different agreements for each age group – elementary school, middle, and high school.
From Yahoo Family Safety
The Family Online and Mobile Device Agreement from Yahoo Family Safety includes a section for parents in the contract, not just as an enforcer of the rules. After all, we have responsibilities in all of this, too!
Yoursphere for Parents has a technology contract on their site along with many great tutorials and reviews to help you with internet safety.
InternetSafety.com is part of McAfee, known for their anti-virus and computer security software. They produce Safe Eyes web monitoring filter, and offer an Internet Monitoring Family Game Plan as one of their resources for parents.
So choose one of these, print it out, and discuss with your child. (I chose the Yahoo contract for my daughter to sign). Add any additional rules or guidelines you want to establish in your family. I also recommend reviewing occasionally, for example every time a new device is introduced, such as a new cell phone, or the start of a new school year. Think of these agreements as tools you can choose from, and use whatever works for you and your family.