Hello again parents,
Well it is time to get down some of the basics. There are some fundamental things that parents should put in place to ensure that they are fully aware of the activities of their children. While this will look a little different at different stages, the basic principles apply pretty much all the time they are your repsonsibility.
First, you need to have the family computer in the open, not tucked away in a corner where the screen is not seen by anyone but the user in front of it. I don't beleive that a computer in a child's room is a good idea. Even with good parental controls (which we'll cover later), you cannot be certain that something doesn't get through. You also won't know about things like cyber bullying and other dangers that can't be caught by parentel controls alone (again, we'll cover these later).
Second, as with most other things in life, it is healthy to have limits on the amount of time on the computer (and other devices for that matter). When our children first started using the computer, we put a timer on the desk in front of them. Depending on the day, they had a time set on the timer, and when it beeped, that was it. To be fair, the younger ones need a bit of a warning, so if the timer isn't right in front of them counting down, give them a 5 minute and/or 2 minute warning. Chances are, they'll want to save their progress before logging off.
You also need to implement some basic security on your computers and your home network. You should have a password protected administrator account on the computer that is used to set up parental controls and install software. Accounts for normal computer use should not be administrator accounts. We will cover good passwords in a later post, but anything is better than nothing to get started! Also, if using a wireless network, that should be secured as well. The manual for your wireless router should walk you through how to do this. If you have an all-in-one router/modem from your internet provider, and you can't figure it out, call them, that's what they're there for! Whatever the case, don't be ashamed to ask for help, it's worth it!
And last but not least, I think it's important for parents to lead by example. By that I mean that whatever measures you put in place for your children (internet monitoring, time limits on recreational use...), you should implement something appropriate for the adults too, and abide by it! We all need our checks and balances after all!
Well, that's a good start! Implement these simple things and you'll be on your way to a healthy home computing environment. So much more to cover... stay tuned!
Before I go, just a reminder: I am open to suggestions and feedback. If there is something you think I've not covered well, or something you'd like to see, please leave a comment. A little comment to let me know that you've been by to see the blog wouldn't hurt either ;)
Have a great day!