Dr. Renee Clauselle, a practicing child psychologist with a private practice in Franklin Square, New York, and Director of School Mental Health Services at St. John’s University, says that parents and children should take a “Cyber Pledge” that sets ground rules on how and when children can use the Internet. A copy of the pledge can be downloaded from the Child & Family Psychology blog, childpsychologyblog.com.
In the Cyber Pledge, children work with their parents to create five to ten separate rules regarding Internet usage. Once the rules are established, children sign the pledge, agreeing to abide by the rules and understanding that they will lose their privileges if they violate any of the rules. Parents, in turn, agree to monitor their child’s usage and have the right to check any content posted on social media sites and to call a meeting at any time to change the rules.
“The Cyber Pledge is a great way for children and parents to gain a sense of understanding with one another on how the Internet should be used. Children will work within the established boundaries when surfing the Web, and their parents will be vigilant in monitoring their usage,” said Dr. Clauselle.
For those who need help in laying down ground rules, Dr. Clauselle offers these suggestions:
• Set times on when and how long the child can be online.
• Expect random checks from parents.
• Do not place personal information (address, phone number, name of school, your whereabouts) on your Facebook page or other social networking sites.
• Get parents’ approval before uploading any photos or videos.
• When visiting a friend’s house, follow the rules you established with your parents, even if your friend does not have a similar set of rules.
• Let your children know what the consequences are if they break the rules.
“As children continue to abide by these rules, they will gain their parents’ trust. This does not mean that parents should loosen the rules for their children; they should still keep track of where they go online and who they communicate with online,” said Dr. Clauselle.