Kids and Internet Safety

Heather is a blogging buddy from way back.  When we discovered each other’s blogs, like eleventy-two years ago (that’s Internet time), we realized that she now lives in my childhood hometown, and I live in hers.  In essence, we switched places.  With that in common, we made fast friends.  I even got a chance to meet her when I was back home for Thanksgiving last year.  In fact, she was my very first bloggy meetup.  She’s agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to guest post for me while I’m finishing out my vacation. 

I’ve hit the big time. 
Seriously.  I am partaking in my first guest blogger position, and
to tell you that I’m not the least bit nervous would be a complete
and utter lie on my part.  I have no problem making a fool out
of myself on my blog, but here at the Housewife’s?  Because I
have some common sense, albeit not much, I’ll behave.  Or at
least try to.

While I was in San Francisco
for BlogHer, I attended a session on Privacy, and I actually presented
a question.  Or perhaps it was a ramble.  Regardless, I spoke
up and asked about the responsibility of educating our
children about the pros and cons of the internet and their safety.  It
was a topic that a few others had on their minds.

I brought this up because my
children see me very involved with the internet on a daily basis. 
And monkey see, monkey do.  I’m not sure how it is in your household,
but I have two monkeys living here that I adore.  I have two monkeys
that have their own computers and internet access.  And I have
two monkeys that I grant the freedom to peruse the internet, have email
addresses, chat, and play games.

I know.  You’re thinking
that I’m crazy.  The world wide web is a scary place, and you
know what?  You’re right.  But so is the real world, and
just as I have educated my children on the dangers of the real world,
I’ve done so online as well.  To me, there isn’t much of a
difference.

What I have learned is that
it is much like when my father told me that I was allowed to drink when
I was in his presence.  What’s the fun in that?  I never
did it.  (Well, not then anyway…but that’s another story for
another time.  Perhaps when I’m not trying to impress the readers
of a blog that does not belong to me.)

So my children both have email
addresses.  They never check them unless they are expecting something
such as the retrieval of a lost password to Runescape or Neopets.

And the most recent talk that
we’ve had in our house was over whether or not my eleven year old
could have a MySpace page.  I was adamant for quite some time that
he be 13 before I would allow him to open an account.  I know what
happens on MySpace.  I know the freaks that you can encounter.
I know because I have a MySpace page.

However, peer pressure convinced
me that perhaps I should allow him to have a page of his own, and we
discussed it.  The two biggies were (a) I am his friend on MySpace
and (b) that I have his password.  He knew from the get-go that
I can log in whenever I want to see what he’s up to. I also set up
the security levels as tight as I could.  Fort Knox would be impressed.

I have only one problem with
his account, and that’s the fact that I am not his top friend. 
But I guess I’ll get over that.  Eventually.

My kids see me online every
day.  Working.  Chatting. Emailing.

They see me post about our
lives on a daily basis for all the world to see.

They’ve met friends that
I’ve met online (including Jo-Lynne).

How can I keep them away from
the online world without being the biggest hypocrite on the face of
the planet?

So I’ll leave you with this
question… how do you educate your children about what you do online
(if they are of an age that they understand?)

While you answer that, I’m
off to log in to Matthew’s MySpace account and make me his top friend!

Heather blogs regularly at Desperately Seeking Sanity, and she also provides WordPress hosting and installation at Desperately Seeking WordPress.