These days, JT is a laptop owner and he is suddenly much more involved with the on-line world than ever before. We've long had rules about which websites JT can visit and I've always reminded him not to communicate with strangers on-line. Those rules served to cover all of the bases for the first few years. But his 5th grade computing habits have suddenly changed. He's discovered that he can join game and quiz websites, communicate with his friends on-line, and he's a fan. Suddenly, I need more principles to guide his on-line life.
1. Consider the recipient
While e-mailing and IMing your friends should always be kind-hearted, it needn't be grammatically correct. However, when making contact with teachers, take care that your words reflect your abilities. If you aren't sure, ask.
2. And speaking of your teachers……
When working on the computer at school or using a school-related program, act in the ways you would act in class. Behave yourself; watch your mouth; and take care in how you present yourself.
3. Be yourself
While the computer may offer options for anonymity, don't use that anonymity to be cruel or unkind. Don't gossip about friends on-line. Don't assume that your comments will be kept private. Double-check your address list, so that you don't make a mistake when sending an e-mail. Do assume that on-line, as in life, you should treat others as you would wish to be treated.
4. Be mindful
In this case, I mean awareness of his long-term on-line life. JT has an e-mail account now and it's one that he can use for years. It will take him through college apps and job apps….translation, his e-mail address is NOT pimpdaddy firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Be cautious
The rule in our house is that JT may not join a website or create a profile without my approval. I act quickly when he asks and I explain my rationale. I've told him that he shouldn't communicate with strangers without checking in with me. And I've let him know that I can (and will) check to see the websites he visits. I've also made clear that these decisions require a dialogue between he and I and will always be a work in progress.
These new rules seem to have us on sound footing for the on-line life we have ahead of us. I'm equally sure that this is an evolving project, and I plan to be thinking ahead.