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Given that my current occupation is as a self-employed blogger, I spend quite a bit of my time on a computer, laptop, and cell phone.
I am no stranger to technology, the internet, or social media.
And neither are my kids.
The other day, my six year old daughter Lisa informed us that she wants a cell phone. This statement came only a day after she informed us she wants her own laptop or tablet. She has on numerous occasions told me she wants to write a blog someday, writing all about her adventures.
My husband and I repeatedly refuse such requests. There is no way we’re buying a phone or computer for a six year old. Ain’t gonna happen.
Her requests makes us a little sad, as it shows our daughter’s innate greed, especially despite our efforts at raising grateful kids. We are so not the parents who buy everything for our kids or give them what they ask for, when they ask for it. (We are penny pinchers after all!) It’s hard to hear your child ask for things she doesn’t need, especially when she’s blessed with so much.
But, my husband and I get it. Our daughter sees us frequently using our cell phones to take pictures, text our friends, make phone calls, play games (like Pokemon Go) or watch videos on Youtube or Facebook.
She also sees us use our computer to edit photos and videos, write blog posts, scroll through Facebook with all of its attractive videos and images, and unfortunately ignore her in the process as we often work and take care of business while on the computer.
There’s no wonder why she would ask for her own. She’s six now and entering grade school. She’s leaving behind more babyish things and yearning to grow up and be an even bigger “big kid.” I mean, this is the 21st century and kids are inundated with digital media.
We’ve been hesitant and very reluctant to allow our daughters to use a computer, especially a computer with Internet access. The internet is so completely awesome, but when you barely know how to read, don’t know an ad from a pretty picture or regular video, and don’t know that cartoons are not all designed for children, you can run into some serious internet safety issues for kids.
Thus, my husband and I have discussed, often, when and how our children will use a computer with internet access.
Another homeschool year is fast approaching and to better use some educational websites, apps, and educational monthly subscription boxes we receive, we decided to set up our old computer for our six year old twins to use, with some very real limitations. We certainly aren’t just going to give our daughters’ free access and free reign to the World Wide Web.
Fagan House Rules for Kids’ Computer and Internet Use
1.) The computer must be in a public place.
We never want our children to have their own computers hidden away in their own bedrooms. With privacy comes the false idea that they can do whatever you want online and not get caught. With a computer in a public place there is far less temptation to access anything they shouldn’t. As six year olds, this rule allows us to quickly and easily come to their assistance and supervise what they are doing.
2.) The computer will have Norton by Symantec installed on it.
With the family-friendly features of Norton Family Premier installed on our computers, we can block unsuitable content for our kids, track what sites they visit, see the words and phrases they search online, and prevent our children from accidentally giving out sensitive personal information like phone numbers, home address, email, and the school they attend (which in our case is our home).
Plus, we can even track how much time our kids spend on their PCs and set limits for how long they can use it.
Norton Family Premier can be purchased on its own, but is also included as a feature of Norton’s all-encompassing Norton Security Premium.
Norton Security Premium works on up to 10 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets and defends against viruses, spyware, malware, and other online threats. It works to safeguard your identity and any online transactions as well as protects your home network with a smart firewall. The Premium subscription even automatically backs up your photos, financial files and other important documents of your choice on your Windows PC, and includes 25 GB of secure cloud storage for your PC with the option to add more.
3.) Our daughters have to complete chores or schoolwork before using the computer
Using a computer isn’t some right of childhood. We prefer most of their schooling and learning to be done offline, in real life, and require them to do that first. Our daughters also need to complete their household chores and personal hygiene responsibilities before using a computer.
4.) Our daughters have to ask to use the computer.
Kids are smart and they figure out how to start things and navigate much quicker than we give them credit for. However, our children cannot use a computer without asking first. We need to know that they are using it, what they are using it for, and how long they intend to be on it.
5.) Our daughters can only use approved websites and apps.
Considering my children don’t really know how to spell yet, and I prefer to be their teacher and not Google, our daughters will only be allowed to use certain approved websites, apps, and games that we show them how to access, use, and play.
6.) Our daughters can’t wear headphones and the volume needs to be turned on.
This may seem odd, but if I am taking care of a baby, toddler, or the house while my daughters use the computer, hearing the computer (as their games, apps, and websites frequently have sounds and music) makes it easier for me to determine if my daughters have gotten off their intended website, clicked on something incorrectly, or otherwise aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing.
With these six simple rules for kids’ computer use, we hope to avoid major online safety issues and exposure to harmful images and videos.
What are your house rules for kids’ internet use and access?
To learn more about Norton by Symantec products, visit the Learning Center.