Handling Social Media with Our Kids

I know some parents aren’t very computer or internet savvy, and they are a bit mystified as to how to keep their kids safe and yet allow them to use the resources available on the internet. There a list of tips for parents outlined here.

Set Appropriate Boundaries and Provide Intentional Oversight for Social Media.

• Follow Website Rules and Safety Tips, and Set Privacy Settings.
Set-up a closed circle of “friends.”
Don’t allow kids to add new “friends” without your permission.Don’t allow your kids to provide any personal information.
Don’t allow kids to set up multiple profiles using multiple email accounts.
Make it clear that you intend to be a “friend” and will regularly check your child’s profile.
Have your kids agree to tell you if they receive any inappropriate or threatening messages.
Set clear expectations about cell phone use.
Set clear expectations about video websites.
Follow Through With Consistent Discipline.


Social media is here to stay. How your child consumes it can impact her or his life for better or for worse. Be proactive by providing loving guidance and discipline. And, be sure to throw in good measures of patience and grace. In doing these things, you’ll be helping your child grow into a mature and responsible adult.

Do you think this is a good list? What are your concerns about allowing your kids to use ‘new’ technologies like mobile phones and the internet? Do you have any practices in particular you find beneficial that you’d like to share?

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dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan,

Those guidelines are pretty close to what we do with our kids. We're a bit looser in the friend department, but not by much -- they are allowed to add friends themselves from the pool of people represented by 1. Our church membership, 2. Our relatives, and 3. Friends from their (former) Christian school. For anyone else, they have to ask. Both kids did have to agree to keep both my wife and I as friends, and further, we have their account passwords in case we need to check on anything going on.

Our kids (9th and 11th grades) both have cell phones, which we want them to have, but they are pre-pay phones, and they have to pay for all time and SMS messages on them. That has made them much more careful and responsible about how much they are used, since they will ultimately run out of paid time on their phones if they are abused.

In the past when they have abused their internet privileges by being on when they should have been doing something else, like school, etc., I have cut off access to the internet from their computers for set amounts of time. For a while a couple of years ago, I had to make sure that their computers only had internet access for a brief time in the mornings to take care of email, etc., before being disabled for the rest of the day, as at that time, they were having trouble being disciplined about the amount of time they spent with games, etc. on the internet.

I also use my router to routinely log connections that are made from every internet capable device in the house, so even if any attempt were made to hide history, I can still find out what they are doing.

The email addresses my kids use are on my own domain (dcbii.com), so again, I control all access and can look on the server for what is going on in email. Since most types of registration require valid email addresses, they only have one of those to use, and I can see everything they have signed up for, and if necessary, it's easy to delete or restrict access to the email account.

I definitely want my girls to understand and be able to use technology, but obviously, such use needs to be monitored closely. They are old enough now that at some point in the not-too-distant future they will be adults away from home, and be able to do what they want with the internet, etc., so I have been gradually, as they have earned it, relaxing my restrictions, because I want them to learn to do what is right because it is right, not because if they don't I will enforce it. Once they have left the nest, I can't really enforce it any more anyway.

Dave Barnhart

Daniel's picture

The techie in me wants to ask if you block every port on your router except port 80 (web traffic)? The only reason I ask is, if your kids really want to get out on the internet and not be logged, it is as simple as port tunneling to a public server. Just takes a few Google searches to figure out how to do it.

rogercarlson's picture

We do all of those things that were suggested. Our oldest has a cell phone. We read were txts (not everday) know what is going on. But praise the Lord, she is really good about that. She (so far) desperately wants to please the Lord. She is in public school and our biggest regular conversation is how am I going to glorify God in..... Because of that, we are very vigilent with all of those things.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Daniel wrote:
The techie in me wants to ask if you block every port on your router except port 80 (web traffic)? The only reason I ask is, if your kids really want to get out on the internet and not be logged, it is as simple as port tunneling to a public server. Just takes a few Google searches to figure out how to do it.

I set my router up to log (not block) every connection on every port. You are correct that there are a number of ways to do proxying, tunneling etc., but even a connection to a proxy server would be logged. If I noticed a lot of connections to such a server, I'd speak with them first, but if necessary, I could then block any connection to the server they were using. The good news is that most proxy or tunnel servers that are free and do not require an account are either very slow or limit many web functions, like e.g. javascript, which would break most of the sites they care about. Even very sophisticated tunneling using ssh or something similar would still require a connection to the outside and thus, still be logged. Since I do network programming for a living, I'm fairly skilled at being able to use logs to determine what is really happening. That's enough for my purposes. I'm not trying to build a "perfect" filter to defeat determined hackers, which I'm sure I couldn't do anyway. I'm just trying to keep my kids as honest as I can.

The object of this is not to start a war I can't win without blocking all access (since I'm not at home every time they are). It's to make sure there is accountability so issues can be dealt with and that they can learn to do the right thing. It will be soon enough that I don't have "control" over them.

Dave Barnhart

Daniel's picture

Sounds good Dave. I just always cringe when I hear parents say that they have it locked down and they know exactly where their kids go to. Yet, their kids, with a little knowledge, can so easily bypass most 'home' security systems.