Once you understand enough about cyberspace and how your children surf the Internet, you can set your own rules. These are the basic rules, even though you may want to add some of your own.
Some kids like setting the rules out clearly in an agreement. Here's one you can use, and post near your computer to help them remember how to surf safely. (Note that while the tips may work for teens, the contract is designed for preteens and younger.)
You can also download this agreement in a printable format. (111k PDF)
I want to use our computer and the Internet. I know that there are certain rules about what I should do online. I agree to follow these rules and my parents agree to help me follow these rules:
- I will not give my name, address, telephone number, school, or my parents' names, address, or telephone number, to anyone I meet online.
- I understand that some people online pretend to be someone else. Sometimes they pretend to be kids, when they're really grown-ups. I will tell my parents about people I meet online. I will also tell my parents before I answer any e-mails I get from or send e-mails to new people I meet online.
- I will not buy or order anything online without asking my parents or give out any credit card information.
- I will not fill out any form online that asks me for any information about myself or my family without asking my parents first.
- I will not get into arguments or fights online. If someone tries to start an argument or fight with me, I won't answer him or her and will tell my parents.
- If I see something I do not like or that I know my parents don't want me to see, I will click on the "back" button or log off.
- If I see people doing things or saying things to other kids online I know they're not supposed to do or say, I'll tell my parents.
- I won't keep online secrets from my parents.
- If someone sends me any pictures or any e-mails using bad language, I will tell my parents.
- If someone asks me to do something I am not supposed to do, I will tell my parents.
- I will not call anyone I met online, in person, unless my parents say it's okay.
- I will never meet in person anyone I met online, unless my parents say it's okay.
- I will never send anything to anyone I met online, unless my parents say it's okay.
- If anyone I met online sends me anything, I will tell my parents.
- I will not use something I found online and pretend it's mine.
- I won't say bad things about people online, and I will practice good netiquette.
- I won't use bad language online.
- I know that my parents want to make sure I'm safe online, and I will listen to them when they ask me not to do something.
- I will help teach my parents more about computers and the Internet.
- I will practice safe computing, and check for viruses whenever I borrow a disk from someone or download something from the Internet.
- I won't post my cell number on my away message, and will check with someone before posting something personal about me on my blog or on a networking site.
- I will Stop, Block and Tell! if I am harassed online or cyberbullied.
- I will Take 5! before reacting to something that upsets me or makes me angry online.
- I will practice responsible "thinkB4Uclick" rules.
- I will learn how to be a good cybercitizen and control the technology, instead of being controlled by it.
I promise to follow these rules. (signed by the child)
I promise to help my child follow these rules and not to overreact if my child tells me about bad things in cyberspace (signed by parent).