Many people choose not to allow their children on the internet at all, but I truly think that is a mistake. As parents, one of our jobs is to teach our children responsibility – and I believe that includes how to use the internet safely. The internet is a wonderful and fascinating place filled with information right at our fingertips. But with such a resource also comes dangers.
As a homeschool family, we use the internet for several subjects, such as math, grammar, typing and more. I have the login pages bookmarked so they simply click and login, but there is always the danger of them getting curious and trying to explore the web. I don’t worry too much about my younger children, as they are just learning to read and spell, so they can’t search for much. My older child, however, is quite capable of searching the internet and that is what prompted us to create some rules and regulations for internet usage.
House Internet Rules
- No electronics after dinner – This wasn’t an easy rule to put in to place, yet we realized that eating dinner together our family disappeared and went their separate ways until bedtime. And bedtime was getting increasingly more difficult, so we did it. We took away all electronic devices after dinner. This opened up time for us to play games together, have a family movie night, laugh and enjoy each other again. It has been wonderful.
- No screens in the bedroom – This is a must-have rule, in my opinion, especially when you have children. On occasion we will let our children watch a video in their room, but we have full access to them and their screen at all times. We use our My Torch settings to ensure they cannot view (intentionally or accidentally) websites we know to be against our personal convictions. However, keep in mind the web changes daily and these are not always fail-proof, so check your children’s devices periodically, if not daily for their browsing history.
- Chat rooms and boards are not allowed – This is a rule that we don’t see changing, even as our children get older. It may not be popular, but with the crazies that roam the internet these days, I would rather be unpopular than open our children up to predators. A couple of the games they play have chats available, but we disable them or sit next to the computer while they are playing to monitor the conversations. It isn’t easy or convenient sometimes, but it is my job to protect them and their innocence.
- No social media accounts – Our children are 11, 8, 6, 5 and 8 months. According to most social media platforms, you need to be at least 13 to have an account. We have chosen to follow those guidelines and then re-evaluate when each child turns 13. We have not decided yet whether our oldest will get any social media accounts when he turns 13 – thank goodness we have another year+ before we cross that bridge. However, I can tell you that will be a discussion based on each child.
- Never share personal information – This is pretty easily accomplished in our house since they are not allowed to be in chat rooms or have any social media accounts. However, it is still a rule we have and reinforce. Just as I teach my children not to give information about themselves to people they see in real life, these online “friends” are essentially strangers and they cannot share information with them.
- No Searches without a parent present – This may seem overly cautious, but it is essential to keeping our children safe on the web. They do not understand all the slang terminology used in the world, thank goodness. However, their naivety can get them in trouble, so we just do not allow them to search the internet.
- First-Five completed before screen time – I told you about our First-Five Rule last month and that is a must before screen time is allowed in our house. We hold to these rules during school days and often times on Saturdays too. Sundays we are at church, so many of those rules do not apply. However, this has been a great way to deter the kids and keep them from nagging us about getting on their devices.
Whether you use the rules above or create your own, I do believe it is important to set rules and guidelines for internet usage. Setting these up now will help your children learn responsibility at a young age and keep them safe too.
Free for you today!
I have created for you a simple little Internet House Rules poster you can print and use. Put the poster near your computers or in a central location for everyone to see. This set also includes a blank page for you to fill in your own house rules. Both pages are available in color and black and white! Simply add them to your cart below, checkout and download!