I would no more let my child wander in a busy city alone that I would let him go it alone in cyberspace.
When it comes to letting kids be online I think parents often are not assertive enough, and I also believe, that many parents let their children have too much privacy when it comes to online activities. When I see the search terms used to find my Children & Facebook post, I truly believe that not enough time is spent considering safety practices before children are given access is give to an Internet-enabled computer.
Parents don’t know what rules and guidelines should be in place, and often they start looking for this type of information when a situation has already occurred. Giving your child Internet access is not like handing over a new book or toy. There are many social and personal safety issues to consider. Parents would do well to set rules and guidelines before any incidents occur.
RULE #1: Get User IDs and Passwords
When it comes to my child, I put safety concerns above privacy issues. For that reason the first rule of thumb here is that my son must provide me with all usernames and passwords to every online service and community he joins.
Requiring usernames and passwords to the online game sites, social Web sites, e-mail and Instant Messaging accounts he has signed up for does not mean I do not respect him. It means I love him and as the parent I need to know he is responsible about what things he chooses to do online. Additionally I also want to make sure unknown adults are not communicating with him online, that adult content is not being spammed to him in instant messaging or e-mail clients, and that he has not mistaken a group or forum for something innocent, when it is not.
If your child is trying to change passwords to prevent you from checking in, don’t automatically chalk it up to rebellion. Let your child know doing this also makes you question if something has happened online that they feel they need to hide.
If the child decides to change the password and won’t give it to you, the solution is easy. Look on the back of the tower and unscrew the monitor cable. Then remove the power cords for both the system and the monitor. Lock them up. When the new username and password are provided, return the cords.
It really is just that simple.
Obviously you need to come up with your own ways to keep the passwords open in your home, but removing access to cables is a quick and easy solution until your child comes around and accepts that no password = no computer usage. Of course when you set this as a rule early on, you’ll have less problems keeping the rule in place until your child is at an age where they have the knowledge and experience to make safe decisions on their own.