What are your internet rules?

Though I think the internet is about 85% great and 15% gak-awful-horror, my ratios change quite a bit when I think about my kids being on it. 

I mean, have you ever read the comments on a YouTube video? Even an adorable :10 film of a puppy chasing a kitten will have someone saying, “Your a f*cker and suc* donkey b*lls”. Doesn’t anyone remember that “you’re” needs an apostrophe? Makes me weep for humanity.

In our home, we have parental controls on everything from the laptops to my iPhone. The kids know that YouTube is verboten unless I am with them. And only my 11 year old has an email account, and no way/no how are they getting on Facebook anytime soon.

But, they are now old enough to leave the house on their own, those darned growing-up kids. And, I no longer accompany them on every play date. They even have friends with their own devices: iPod Touches,  iPads, and access to their home computers.

So now what? If I find them huddled around a device in my presence, I tell them to shut it off and go outside to play. But, when I’m not there? Now what? 

I’ve thought about approaching parents and asking, “Do you have parental controls on your kids’ devices?” But then I think I’ll go from being That Weird Homeschooling Parent, to That Weird Overprotective, Nosy, Pushy Homeschooling Parent (who doesn’t let her kids read The Hunger Games).

My husband has asked a friend for a copy of the Internet Contract he’s had his kids sign. I like this idea though I think any memory of a “contract” probably goes out the window as soon as a friend says, “You’ve GOT to see this!

How do you mamas of older kids handle this? Do you tell your kids’ friends to put away the devices in your home? Host every play date so they are always under your roof? Lock them in their room until they are 18? (Oh I could never do that. I read Flowers in the Attic.)

But, seriously, I’d really appreciate your input on this one. When my oldest expressed frustration at me when I was talking this over with her, I said, “Listen, this is new territory. There WAS NO INTERNET when I was a child.” 

“Wait? Not even email?”

Sigh. These kids don’t really understand.


  1. Definitely interested in the advise you get here!

  2. "No Internet!" Hah! It was the dark ages, 'tis true. I had to do all my schoolwork with my mom's old set of encyclopedias from 1968 and felt LUCKY because I didn't have to do to the library.

    Figure it out and let me know. I don't even want to think about this kind of crap. Gah.

  3. Nan | Wrath Of Mom says

    I'm curious, too! I want a chastity-ringesque internet access agreement.

    Your daughter's incredulity cracked me up. In 1992 I was at university and had to apply in person with a two page written application to get my own email account. I was the 35th student at a university of 30,000 to get one and the user contract specified it could only be used for academic research. Damn. I'm old.

  4. Anita Thebo says

    My girls are older, now 16 and 19 (almost 17 and 20), and when they started with email accounts and getting on the computer several years ago, yeah, it was a touchy thing. And my youngest got the crap scared out of her by responding to an email of someone she didn't know. A friend forwarded something she had sent with her email address still on it; this boy (we hope) wrote back to her, etc, etc. Then we found out because she told friends who told friends. We emailed the boy and told him not to email her anymore, we were her parents, etc. He claimed we weren't – then I sic'd Army dad on him. Then we changed her email address. Yeah, don't mean to scare you.
    It really just boils down to the things you have taught them and expect them to do that are right. And it really is talking to them all the time, even when they don't want to listen.
    Before Facebook became the thing to do, it was MySpace, and both girls wanted a MySpace account. Well, I wouldn't let them unless we could get to it. Dad got him one so he could watch it too. That wasn't a problem until a boy we know posted something really ugly on his wall about my child. Then we had to call his dad, etc. But, you know, that is kids. I trust that my kids will do the right thing. One thing I have forbidden them to do on Facebook is post that they are in a relationship with someone. I find it extremely weird when 15 and 16 year olds post that they are in a relationship, then when they break up everyone has to comment on it, and they get all upset all over again. Just don't do it.
    I know you homeschool, but even public schools where I live, the kids have to have permission to use the internet, but there are all kinds of measures so they can't get on sites that are not approved. My husband is one of the ones who puts those blocks in place in a larger system in our area. He wanted to test one of their blocks, asked a kid to try to go to a certain site, the kid was all, "I'm not going to get in trouble, am I?"
    Don't know if that is much help. But just talk to them about how sometimes you can accidentally type in something and it takes you some place you aren't supposed to be, know to get out ASAP. A friend and her daughter were looking up something about rhinos a few years ago. Who knew that term also had to do with a porn site??? If you accidentally type in whitehouse.com instead of whitehouse.gov you go to a porn site. People will do anything to get you to their sites, just know to get out as soon as possible. If they are at a friend's house and the friend is doing something that your child knows they shouldn't do, walk away, call mom, do something, but don't sit there and look at something you know isn't right.
    Sorry for the rambling. Hope it helps.

  5. This is something I struggle with, especially with my nine year old son. We have erred on the side of more relaxed just because A's ability to learn and discover things on the computer easier without constantly being blocked. Instead of blocking youtube, we discuss what is appropriate, what is not, etc. A few years ago he clicked on a lego link that lead to another one where someone made a lego toilet, which lead to many more disturbing links.

    I trust him to talk to me when he runs up against something he shouldn't have. He has a vague idea of what adult content is (he knows its about sex) and we tell him why he shouldn't be seeing certain things yet.

    I guess this is a long winded way to say we are trying to prepare him for when he comes across inappropriate content and help him avoid is as long as possible. Hubby is a techie and I am computer-obsessed so we just want to give him tools, rather than just rules.

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