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Setting Family Computer Rules

One way to help kids know what’s OK and what’s not is to set clear standards for using computers and other electronic devices like smartphones and tablet computers. You might want to consider:
  • Telling young children to ask for your permission before they access the Internet.
  • Setting time limits for computers and other devices, per day or per week, and what time of day is OK.
  • Sharing your child's first email account.
  • Pre-approving your child's list of "buddies" if you decide to allow them to use instant messaging, and requiring them to get your permission before adding any new names. 
  • Limiting your child to social networking sites that you approve, if you decide to allow them to use these kinds of sites.
  • Joining social networking sites that your child uses, so you can monitor what they share.
Sample Family Rules
When possible, have your family computer rules in place before your children begin using the computer. Children find it easier to accept and obey rules that have already been established.

Once you've outlined those standards and your kids know what's expected of them, you may want to create a list of clear guidelines that can be posted on your computer as a reminder. A sample:

Using the computer is a privilege. In order to enjoy this privilege and use the computer, we agree to follow these rules: 

  • We get permission before accessing the Internet. On a shared computer, we use our personal login.
  • We set a strong password for every device that can be password-protected, and we do not share our passwords with anyone but our parents.
  • The things we do on the computer and other devices are not secret or confidential, and we do not hide what we are doing.
  • We visit web sites that are appropriate for our age. We don't visit web sites or access information that are “off limits” for us.
  • We get permission before sending or posting photos or personal information.
  • We get permission before downloading apps or making purchases online. 
  • We tell our parents about anything we see online or in a text message that makes us uncomfortable.
  • We only use email accounts that our parents know about.
  • We don't enter chat rooms.
  • Instant messaging is only allowed with people we already know. Our parents must approve the members of our "buddies list."
  • We don't respond to messages from people we don't know.
  • If we are allowed to join social networking sites, we utilize privacy settings to control access to our page and we keep our settings up-to-date.
  • Friends" are people we know in real life. People we only know online get limited access.
  • We share our passwords with our parents so they can monitor our online activities.
  • If we're using a public Wi-Fi "hot spot," we only surf online. We never enter account numbers, passwords, or any other information when using unsecured Internet access.
  • We can use computers and other electronic devices between the hours of ______ and ______.
  • We can use computers and other electronic devices for up to _______ hour(s) per day.
  • These rules apply to our home computer and all other computers and electronic devices we use.


____________________ Name  _____________________ Date