In this digital age of parenting, the days of the little locked book under the mattress have by way of the scrunchie and Wham!. My kiddo doesn't use the computer yet, so the latest Mad Life video is a tough one for me, as it brings up the anxiety I already feel about all of the hurdles and issues I'll be facing in a short few years.
I hear about kids on computers, and I think of the Dateline NBC "To Catch a Predator" series. I see teens on Facebook, and I think of my nieces and nephews posting pictures and statuses that make me wonder what their parents' are thinking as they spot them. I read stories about online bullying, and I ponder how I will handle it if my child is ever bullied via a text message. I know these are my parental worries...not necessarily what my kiddo will do or think of or have to face. But, to be brutally honest, it freaks me out.
Relationship ninja Ian brings up a good point: we need to give our kids space, yet be aware that are developing at one speed emotionally and at another speed cognitively. As I‘m a firm believer of GI Joe's mantra "Knowing is half the battle," I've read a lot of great hints about walking that tricky tightrope of computer privacy and kids. Yes, all of them were found (where else?) on the computer, natch.
-- Have the computer in a central, common space, especially when your kids are first learning about the internet and becoming comfortable with it. You can monitor their use by just being in the same room.
-- Have ground rules and go over them often. You know her passwords and reserve the right for "surprise checks" on the computer to see what she's been doing, but you don't read the texts on her phone or listen in on conversations.
-- Just like you have a smoke detector in your house and talk about fire satey, install safety software so your kids can't access certain sites and remind her to never give out personal information and other critical safety elements of computer use.
-- Keep that line of communication going. Talking about her life, knowing who her friends are, who she is texting and on Facebook with is essential in building trust and strengthening your relationship...so you don't have to "snoop."
By the way, there is a new, raw and interesting documentary that touches on elements of this whole online world subject we are discussing. It's called Sexy Baby, and it's about how our kids are navigating this cyber world, the images they see on it, and how our kids struggle defining their own online image on it as well.
How do you handle privacy and your kids and the computer? Do you have rules about it? Share your experiences with us!