My young sons and internet use

My first son was born in 1999.  I had an internet-based business that year and have been glued to a computer ever since.  Therefore, my children have been brought up using computers, the connected generation.  Phones, computers and in the past few years, tablets.  The internet has become ubiquitous where it even now travels with us.  I have a lot of respect for all that it has allowed me to do and for how it has opened up the world and education.

But the power of the internet and it’s dark side scares me, too.

My children had limited access to the internet time up until the past couple of years and in that time the usage has exponentially grown into becoming somewhat excessive.  As I type, there is an Xbox downstairs with three boys, three laptops, an iPod, Blackberry and an iPad mini.  An iPad in the kitchen. Living room, possibly a laptop, etc, etc.  Scary.

My boys are 10 and 13 now and I’m becoming a bit more concerned about their internet use.  How can I keep track of what’s on all of those devices?  Luckily, and purposefully I am very aware and almost vigilant about what they play and watch online.  Keeping violence and pornography away from them at all costs is high on my list of priorities.  They are constantly on Minecraft and I have no problem with that. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite.  I can make an argument that it’s actually quite good if your child is playing it (in moderation).  I’m trying to teach them to be responsible.

Although right now I feel very confident in the positive way in which my boys are using the internet and technology, I will do everything I can to teach them that they have to use these powerful tools with respect and look for positive experiences and not use it for any nastiness, darkness or hurtful behavior.

Here are 13 ways to teach your children about the internet:

1. Teach them what open source is.

2. Why copyright is important.  Good info from CBC on it here.

3. Tell them to contribute as opposed to plunge, by writing, filming, recording, etc. as opposed to stealing, copying, etc.

4. Show them how to contribute by doing the following:

5. Teach them how to code so they can create things (ages 6 and up).  There are a TON of ways to do this.

6. Communicate with them with technology. Not ALL of the time, but show them you’re familiar with what’s “in”.

7. Share information of value with them online. What are your values?

8. Use it as a priveledge. They have to earn it to use it.

9. Encourage them to self-teach as much as possible using resources from the web (youtube a how-to video).

10. Encourage them to not spend ALL of their time online.  Go outside!

11. Be aware of who their friends are online.

12. Read up on internet safety for children… there are many resources available online to help.

13. Teach them to be be wary of how women are over-sexualized and that it is never, never okay to take a girl’s picture without her consent.

I’m sure you could add to this, and I encourage you to do in the comments or by emailing me,  or at the very least, think of how you can show your children better ways to use the internet.  Take care of your children… it can be treacherous out there!

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