Internet Safety Part 2

Thank you for the wonderful advice and encouragement y'all! There's been some serious discussion going on in our household lately, about responsible internet use. Some points that were brought up:

* The internet is FREE, as in not controlled by a corporation, government or individual. (ideally!) It is controlled by internet users, and that's US. We have a responsibility to create a safe virtual world.

* There are many people who are irresponsible, and they are allowed to use the internet too! So we have to take steps to keep ourselves and our families safe. That's why responsible parents use Parental Controls to block some of the crappy content on our computer at home.

* We learned how to use the "Snipping Tool" (in accessories: I copied it to the desktop) to take a screen shot, and discussed ways of reporting sites and users.

* We talked about how a friend of a friend's daughter was in a chat room and said to her Mom, "Something strange here." Her mom called the mom of the cousin she was chatting with, and the moms pretended to be the girls. They agreed to meet another "girl" they were chatting with, called the police, and a known sex offender was arrested at the scene. What a good thing that girl had her mom right there, and had the intuition to feel that something was wrong!

* We discussed how people who spend too much time in computer games, internet, and TV have lower school grades. We talked about how it can be addictive, and how watching violence and hate desensitises us and makes us want more. It also encourages owners of those sites to produce more.

* We discussed the difference between internet friends and "Real" friends. "How many FRIENDS do I have, guys?" got answers from hundreds, to thirty, to five.

* I said that I could, and would, check their internet use history.

So far so good, I think. I am not overly worried about occasional exposure to crap online, but more about habitual searching for a thrill. One great way to break a habit is to cut off availability, as one commenter said. If I find any boy playing the fool online, their computer privileges will be revoked. I want them to know what's out there, as Chutney Garden pointed out, so they aren't completely overwhelmed when they are exposed.

And stuff comes up that you're not even looking for! I remember one day in Chicklands, the kids were all crowded round the computer... Mikey, Issa, and my three, and they were youtubing and cracking up at all the funny stuff. Suddenly they got quiet, and when I looked over it was animated skeletons in every sexy position imaginable! I just switched it off and shooed them outside, but I should have reported it to youtube. I didn't think! The "stick man" and "lego" stuff can also be violent and isn't easily picked up by filter & control programs.

As Lou pointed out, YES that are great kids, and they want to do the right thing. Hopefully that desire to do the right thing will be stronger than the lure of exciting concepts like Phone Pranks! Laying down the law, making it clear what is acceptable, is a good thing for boys.

Green Girl, see if you can chase down your hubby's plan for the future. We need info from those in the know!

Hi Hayley! Any suggestions as resident teen? SteffieBeans, are you out there? Megan? I know you guys know chat rooms way better than I ever could, have you encountered any weirdness? What suggestions would you give a parent of kids younger than yourselves, to keep them safe and prevent naughtiness on the computer? I would really appreciate your input.

I know I've forgotten some stuff, but I have a feeling this conversation is going to continue for a while so anything I've left out, and your observations, can go into the next post. Keep those comments rolling!


Anonymous said…
I think you're doing very well.

We don't allow internet access in the bedrooms, so it's all out in the open. We keep the conversations going. In the same way they will no doubt be exposed to inappropriate stuff at school, friends' houses, etc, so we need to be talking about things. Like that girl you mentioned, who told her mother when she felt uncomfortable. Nothing new or earthshaking.

(Disclaimer: have not read comments on first post)
Mine is only 7 so we limit all screen time (computer, tv, video games) to one hour a day. He can choose between those 3 things, but no more than an hour of screen time.
When he's on the computer, I bring the lap top into the kitchen so I can watch. He's not old enough to know what's out there (yet..or maybe he is??), but it's so easy to open a new window and click on an 'ad' for something and who know what will pop up...kind of scary. Definitely a cause for concern and you are right to be proactive about internet safety.
Anonymous said…
All excellent points! We keep our computer in the kitchen where there is ALL KINDS of traffic and we monitor and limit the boys' use, but I will keep you posted on what Mr. D teaches me about other ways to "control" the screen. I agree, most people are good, it's the evil freaks that make online a dangerous place for kids to be.
Nan Sheppard said…
Of course, the kitchen is the best place for a kid to be using the computer. Whatever is the busiest room in the house!

Well, they could be base jumping with wingsuits. At least they can't afford to do that yet.
Hi Nan, It's a challenge raising a high IQ child. It can be lonely for them not having many true peers. Not that they're any better, just different than most of their friends. It's important to make sure they have at least some intellectual and emotional peers so they can be heard, met and understood at their own level. Maximizes the probability of Sam choosing their company to the stimulation of the computer.
Nan Sheppard said…
This is one of the things I hope Sam will get in the UK: Kids like him in a school which caters to geeks!
Anonymous said…
The only advice I have is that.. when in chatrooms, msn, etc. Dnt give off phone numbers, where your going or DEFINETLEY not where you are. Online Predators are getting smarter by the day, and by just giving off phone numbers they can probably find out where you are. Tell the boys to be careful what information they give off. Tell them they should always have an adult nearby while on chat rooms. Thats what I do. Be sure to let them know that everything they search; you can check it in history.
Hayley Millar :)
Nan Sheppard said…
Thanks, Hayley, and that's a good point about phone numbers. I never thought of that!
This is a concern in my house too. The benefits of the internet far outweigh the risks, but there's a lot of scary stuff out there.

Thanks for commenting on my site. :)
Cheffie-Mom said…
Wow - very informative. You are doing a great job. My kids are a bit older, so I don't worry as much. But the internet can be a scary place!!
aclare said…
Sorry i'm playing catch up... but I just wanted to say that you are such a sensible parent and I am glad you are here for when we start our family. For those times when it all goes pear-shaped! Love ya! x