According to a number of public reports sent to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, many youths aren’t using the internet safely; by revealing personal information and posting inappropriate images of themselves on social networking sites like Facebook.

It’s important for parents to set basic rules and boundaries about internet use just as they would for any other household activity, such as watching TV.

Parents can set the rules by creating or utilizing a youth parent contract like this one, to make sure everyone in the family is taking an active role in internet safety, and so kids understand that if any breach of the contract occurs, privileges such as internet use can be taken away.

In developing a contract, parents should become familiar with the places their children are going online. They should also encourage open communication about what their kids like to do online by promoting the internet as a family activity.

Topics you may want to include in your contract:

- Where your computer and internet are allowed in your home
- A plan outlining the maximum amount of time allowed on the internet per week
- Emphasis on never opening an e-mail or instant-message from someone you don’t know
- What personal information should never be given out
- The importance of an anonymous email address for social network and chat accounts
- Emphasis on the lines of communication being open without judgment
- Guidelines on the type of image and video content allowed to be uploaded
- An agreement not to meet a stranger without a parent’s permission
- What sites are on and off limits (pornographic and gambling)

Full article available here: Kiwi Commons

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