Q: I am not comfortable with the Internet
and don't allow my kids to have e-mail or join social networks even
though they are old enough. Is this wrong?
A: Some families don't allow their children to
have cell phones. Others do not have TVs or video games. Still
others forbid kids from accessing the Internet. Each family
develops rules and boundaries for their family based on many
variables-religious beliefs, a child's maturity level and a
parent's readiness to supervise, to name a few.
It is important to accept the fact that today's children need
strong technology skills to be successful students and pursue their
career goals. Participating and communicating effectively online is
critical for future success, and the more supervised practice and
guidance children get, the better.
When it comes to creating tech rules and boundaries for your
family, it is important to consider these factors as you make your
- Kids will have access eventually. Whether you allow them to
surf online at home or not, your child will experience the
Internet. School, a friend's house, the library, a caregiver or a
friend's cell phone can allow any child access to the Internet.
Public Wi-Fi and mobile devices make access easy and will become
even more available as his age increases.
- Kids need Internet guidance, even when they are offline. You'll
need to talk to kids about how to behave, stay safe and be smart
online even if they aren't accessing the Internet in your home. If
you're not sure what points to make, talk to your child's teacher
or guidance counselor. Or visit GetNetWise.org for some basic points to get
- Kids need to know why. A child will be more likely to follow
your rules and respect boundaries if you offer up an honest
explanation for your decision. Base your explanation on fact ("I
don't have Internet security in place yet") not fear ("I'm afraid
you'll be abducted by a child predator."). Be honest without being
too critical and avoid sounding fearful or expressing distrust in
- Kids need your knowledge. Parents should have some
understanding of the Internet and insights into what their child's
peer group is accessing online so they can uphold their decision
and respond as a child continues to question and debate the family
Let your kids know you are in touch with what's happening in
school, have explored social networks and have visited websites
that seem to be getting a lot of attention from kids. Find reliable
resources for keeping up with current trends such as PluggedInParent.com or BeNetSavvy.org, which offer updated news and
tips on kids, technology and education.