Parenting online

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My daughter found this analogy for me, I quite like it.

I do not coddle or smother my children, not at all. I do not ignore them either. I’m at that balanced place where I pop my head into the room when they are doing homework, watching a movie or entertaining friends. They know they can come to me about anything (including suspecting that there’s a boogieman under their beds) and I will listen and try to come up with a solution – yeah I’m still trying to master advising and not solving. But for the life of me, I can’t relax about this social networks thing!

I know the kids who come to my house and to whose houses my kids go. I know their parents, last names and I’ve wiped snot off of most of their faces. I trust them, okay my oldest son’s best friend might make me a bit suspicious but I know him and I know that he’s a good kid from a good family. I worry about Jay243 though, or whatever the screen name is. Once when my oldest son first started using Mxit I phoned everybody on his contact list’s parents, sadly some thought I was deranged but a few were very accommodating. A few of the parents had great advice to give such as:

  1. Limiting Social networking time (we did 2 hours a day all after school, homework and before bedtime). Never let anything interfere with bedtime because you’ll have zombies in the morning who are only too happy to repeat the cycle the next night.
  2. Ask for their password, we have a password board in the house, the motto is very simple: If you feel you have to hide it then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
  3. Show an interest in your children’s lives without prying or sounding like you’re trying to catch them out.
  4. Set rules where Social Networking is concerned, including DOs and DONTs and openly discuss issues of safety because whom are we kidding, these kids can outsmart us.
I worry about my children meeting a person and they turn out not to be what they said they were (both for their safety and innocence, I don’t think I ever want them to experience what it feels like to be hurt by lies unnecessary ones at that). My daughter who is a budding writer has a blog, which I am sure she censors since we read it, and at one time there was a girl from England who just kept posting ugly comments. We blocked her from the site – after I wrote a long note to her mother on Facebook (thank you google!) Cyberbullying  is a problem that must be addressed. Here are some tips  for safe social networking.

I am a parent and my decision is usually final, but I am always willing to listen.

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