I think there are too many aspects to answer your question. How old are they? Is the computer in a general family space or off on it's own, have you done work with your child about what is appropriate/safe/polite in chatting, what are your guidelines? etc. My eldest is now 12 and so far she is not allowed. But I know the door will be opening in the next few years for sure. She is learning a lot about how to communicate online though--from important things like "you must physically know the person you email-we don't have a pen pal so that is not an issue, to how you use BCC and not spread everyones email to everyone else you know when you forward that horribly cute set of photos! And most importantly I think, to only say what you would be comfortable saying in person. If you can't say it to their face, DO NOT SAY IT!
at 1:32 AM on Oct. 7, 2010