What are your kids interested in? Chances are, whatever they are interested in offline, they'll be interested in online. You can help steer their online experience by going online yourself first and do a bit of Googling. Have a daughter who is a fan of American Girl? Check out their site. Have a son who loves Legos? Go to their online game site. Visit sites of brands that you're already familiar with and that you have a comfort level with. From here, you can venture out and explore. Make bookmarks of sites for your kids and offer them a variety of sites to choose from during their session online.
Supervision without Suffocation
By giving your kids a set of sites to choose from, you're giving them a sense of empowerment that they are making their own choices (they are of course, but within a controlled environment). This allows you to offer a certain level of supervision without suffocating them. Hand in hand with this is where in your home your PC is physically located. I highly recommend that you have your childs online session be in an area where you are… a communal area, not off in their room behind a closed door. That way, you're there as a resource to answer questions and you're there to ensure they're where they ought to be.
General Parameters that we follow and some nuggets of info
- You don't go online without asking. The PC is password protected anyhow
There are also many ways to protect your child's online viewing habits with software applications such as NetNanny . You need to research and figure what best suits your situation.
- We ask what it is they're interested in doing. "Dunno" or "Just going on Google" doesn't cut it.
Did you know that you can set up Safe Search Filtering on Google? With this, you can have another layer of protection to ensure that your kids don't stumble across something inappropriate when doing something as benign as a search.
- Time limits. Nobody spends all day on the PC (except for Daddy )
My wife bought an egg timer to put near the PC. When the kids get feisty and all want time online, this is a sure fire way to make it even-stevens.
- If you want to look at something new, we do it together first.