by: Kristina Rust
I thought we had good rules in place for online safety in my family but I recently found out despite our efforts to monitor our kids' online consumption, it only takes a few seconds for your 10 year old twins (along with their birthday party guests) to stumble upon an Andy Samberg song parody about sex on YouTube or your 11 year old daughter to unknowingly register herself for an online dating site (as well as send out spam invitations to all of her email contacts to also join).
Yes, this past month my eyes were opened to the harsh reality of how easy it is for kids to accidentally stumble upon adult related content no matter how many rules you have regarding Internet usage or what parental control software you have in place.
What I learned from these incidents is that wrong turns will happen on the information highway no matter how hard you try to prevent it. The key is using these bumps in the road as learning opportunities for your kids and yourself.
After the Andy Samberg/online dating misfortunes, we sat down with our four kids and revisited our online rules. We reminded them about not opening spam emails, that if you are in doubt to exit out, not to post/email anything that you wouldn't want read on your school's morning announcements and how watching YouTube is ONLY allowed with parent supervision.
As parents we were reminded to frequently check our kids' email accounts, that you can't turn your back on YouTube, and that it is time to have the sex talk (ok., this is not an online rule, but now that the cat is out of the bag, questions need to be answered).
Despite the eye-rolling and "we get it" comments, it was a great way to connect with our kids and let them know that the digital world is one that we all need to embrace responsibly, safely and most importantly, one that we will navigate together.
This post was inspired by the Yahoo! Motherboard. Yahoo! is committed to online safety and has a wonderful site, Yahoo! Safely, which is full of advice and tips on making smart and safer choices online. Kristina can also be found blogging about the sweet and sour side of parenting at Parent Grapevine and her love of photography at Moms Who Click.