My son is 17 now, but he has grown up with access to the internet and has always had computers around him. I have always taught him about being safe online from the start and one thing we did when he started being able to go online without us sitting right there with him was have an online contract.
While we may instantly think of keeping our kids safe from pedophiles online, there are many dangers out there. You want your contract to cover how to protect themselves not only from people who want to meet them in person, but also on how to be a smart consumer, how to protect their identity, and how to protect their reputations. Make sure to include when and where it is ok for them to give personal information, how to shop securely online, understanding phishing, security on free wifi, types of details not to share online, and the like.
What you include in the contract is going to change as they grow up also. A contract for an 8-year old will differ from one written for a 16-year old. One thing I caution you on is “forbidding” your kids to do certain things. Rather than just saying NO, instead rephrase that and explain what they should not do and why they should not do it. Children appreciate being respected.
I suggest you create a contract for each of your children. Each child is unique so you need to be able to adjust for their own individual needs. Print them up on the computer if you can to make it “official looking” for them. Then, sit down with your child and go over each item in the contract to make sure they understand each item. It is really important that your child signs the contract and you (and any other parent/guardian) as well. If your child spends a lot of time, like Grandma’s house, with internet access I would provide those adults copies of the contract also. Post a copy of that contract right by the computer and then make sure you go over (we started weekly) the contract items regularly and update (add/remove/change) items as needed as your child matures and as technology changes.
Yes, this can be time consuming but it is important to help your kids be safe and so that they learn early on to be smart about it all. There is no need to scare them, but keeping things at a level they can understand and starting young really will help.
Identity Guard as some identity theft facts and some child identity theft tips that you might find helpful for that part of your contract. We actually use Identity Guard to monitor my data and I use their kIDSure service to monitor my son right now and it really is a very good service they provide, I have been impressed with them since we started a few months ago.
What kinds of things would you include in your child’s (grandchild) online contract?
Disclosure: This service was provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.
© 2012, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.