In my last post on Tips for Parents with Kids Online, I discussed the importance of placing a priority on safety over privacy when it comes to passwords and usernames. Today the focus is on the location of your child’s computer, and how you can limit risk and exposure to your child simply by keeping computer access restricted to public, traffic areas in your home. Basically this means you need to keep Internet connected computers out of your child’s personal space which is their bedroom in most homes. In our home a closed bedroom door indicates a need or want of privacy.
When it comes to the Internet you cannot possibly monitor a child’s habits adequately if you allow them access in private. A family lounge/rec room or a computer room to accommodate all systems in one household is the best solution. For older teens, if you do allow them a computer in the bedroom you need to consider an open door policy. By this I mean the bedroom door is left open while the computer is being used, and as the parent you need to periodically check up on the child to see where he is surfing and what they are doing.
Why is this important? For the most part technology and access to it is increasingly changing the way your children learn and the experiences they have. You know the girl or boy from school they interact with, but you don’t know the many people they can find and choose to interact with online. You do not want them to be lead or intimidated by complete strangers, and you also may not want them subjected to or actively seeking out particular kinds of content online.
By simply keeping the computer in a public space within the home is going to, right from the get-go, encourage your children to do more age-appropriate tasks and engage in more appropriate conversations online. Knowing that Mom or Dad can see what they are doing at any time is going to at least limit their daring behavior online. A public space also means you can help your kids by taking a more active role in their Internet usage. Walking by you might see something in a browser that can be cause to stop and ask what they are doing in a fun conversation starter way. For parents not so ‘tech-savvy’, this can also be a great way to encourage your kids to help you learn how to do things online, and how to use different Internet-applications.
Don’t forget to check out Rule #1 – Get Usernames and Passwords.