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Personal Family Questions about Internet Usage

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 4/20/2009

Questions families should ask themselves when children are connecting to the internet.

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    The following questions are guidelines for families with children connecting to the internet. The answers will help maintain safety.

    • How many computers are in the house? How many are connected to the internet?
    • Is the computer used by young children in a busy room where other family members can see the monitor?
    • Who needs to use the computer, for how many hours per day, which days of the week and for school or work?
    • Can some school or office work be done offline? Can it be done on a different computer?
    • How many hours per day would each person like to use the computer? How many hours per day should each person use the computer?
    • Which family members need undivided adult supervision when connected to the Internet and are they: surfing, finding information, using text messaging, visiting chatrooms or checking email?
    • Who can use which username?
    • Is filtering or monitoring software attached to a username? If so, are the settings appropriate for the person using the username?
    • Make a separate folder for each family member of the websites and chatrooms they are allowed to visit. Decide who is allowed to use which folder. Use passwords for each folder if necessary.
    • Can anyone connect to the internet who can get to desktop? Does the computer remember logon information? Are the cables connected so anyone who knows logon information can connect? Is this appropriate for my family?
    • Decide which adult will: examine and review the website and privacy policies, approve or disapprove of the websites and chatrooms children want to visit, which persons (online) are allowed to communicate with children in email, text messaging and chat programs. Remember to adjust the settings in each program.
    • Decide who is allowed to sign-up for specific newsletters and mailing lists.
    • Has the adult met everyone’s online friends?
    • Decide who has permission to buy online - what, where and with whose monies, according to your family values. Children should not be able to purchase online until they are able to use a credit or bankcard at a retail store.
    • Enforce the rule “No phone calls or in-person meetings with any friends met online”.
    • Enforce the rule, according to your family values, “No children can send or post pictures at a website, as an email attachment, or as a text message without permission and supervision from a parent”. Know if your children’s friends use the internet and what kind of supervision they have while online.
    • Discuss online safety and supervision with all family member’s schools, workplaces, and local libraries.
    • Assign a family member on a regular basis (weekly, monthly) to download and install anti-virus software updates and security patches for your operating system and all installed programs.
    • Have regularly scheduled online safety drills just like your family has fire and emergency drills. Practice as a family how to get away from strangers when they approach or will not leave you alone in your neighborhood or online, in a chatroom, in email and text messaging. Each family member should teach and remind younger family members how to recognize, avoid and get away from bad people.
    • Do we observe cleanliness with our computer as we do with other surfaces that are able to spread germs to family members?
    • Follow your family's everyday rules for internet usage. For example tell a parent when someone: makes you, your brother or sister uncomfortable, when someone uses bad words, is following a family member online or to your home, is sending too many emails, is asking too many or weird questions, or when a website needs personal information before a child can use the website, or any other situation where family members would tell parents or parents would want to know.
    • Share internet experiences with family members as your family does with everyday experiences.