Family Tips for Internet Use

By: Jacque Miller, CSU Larimer County Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences

The internet is full of legitimate and useful information. It is a great place to stay connected with family and friends, as well as expand social networks to others who share interests in similar topics. However, for children and teens this same technology can result in a variety of unwanted outcomes. What can you do as a parent or caregiver?

  1. Establish Household Rules
    Make certain your child/teen is aware of your rules for Internet use. Be prepared to follow through with consequences if the rules are violated. Place computers in a central and frequently visited spot in your home, an area where you are able to monitor and is not isolated from family activities.
  2. Communicate with your Child/Teen
    Talk with your child/teen and find out what they like to do online and why. Be open-minded! As a family develop a family strategy for technology that meets everyone's needs, such as determining an appropriate amount of time that can be spent online or which sites are allowable. Try to respond appropriately if your child/teen reports an online concern or incident. Fear of overreaction is the main reason they do not report online concerns to adults.
  3. Monitor Your Child/Teen's Use of the Internet
    Engage in respectful monitoring: public online activities are public and open to review; private communications should be reviewed if there are reasons for concern. Install monitoring software that filters or blocks inappropriate content on all computers your child/teen uses. Filtering and blocking programs cannot protect from all online dangers, but they can help. Keep track of the websites your child/teen is visiting and be on the lookout for inappropriate sites or anonymous chat rooms.
  4. Become Tech-Savvy!
    Learn the technology. Doing so will allow you to monitor your teens online use more closely. Ask your child/teen to show you Facebook, MySpace and/or Twitter and to help you set up your own account or profile. Learn how to adjust the privacy settings so that only people you and your child/teen approve can assess the information they provide.

This article was adapted from New York State Parental Information & Resource Center (PIRC) Factsheet: Monitoring Your Child's Internet Use. ( )

Additional information to support you and your child schools success can be found at the PIRC website.