Recently, my almost eleven year old and his friends started e-mailing each other. They share ideas, make plans, and sometimes share the newest, coolest thing on YouTube. When we set my son’s account up, we made a rule that we have to be able to access it at all times as well as know the password. With all the technology around us, it is good to have rules and make sure that kids know these rules as well as safety precautions when being online.
My first rule is that I have to know the passwords and have access to the accounts. It is not because I want to snoop. I just want to make sure that he isn’t receiving inappropriate messages. I feel that being proactive is always best. I would feel the same if he were using Facebook. I would want to make sure that he isn’t engaging in something that is potentially harmful.
Secondly, make sure that your child knows the dangers of hacking, and make sure that they do not click on suspicious links, even if it looks like it was sent from a friend. We recently had a discussion about this because I had thought his friend had been hacked.
In addition, it doesn’t hurt to know who their contacts are, be it e-mail, Facebook, or other social media. While my son is just e-mailing for now, I have discussed this issue with teenagers I know because so many of them post things on Facebook publicly, including information that can give their immediate whereabouts. Also, many of them “friend” or “follow” people they don’t even know on social media. It raises the potential for something harmful to happen.
Finally, keep an open dialogue about it. Never be accusatory. Let them know that it isn’t that you don’t trust them, but you want to keep them safe. My son and I have an open dialogue about technology, and I always try to make it clear to him that these rules are for his protection but also to just make sure that he is a smarter online user.