Limitations we have set up to protect our kids from pornography and other negative things.
Have the computer in a public place. Ours is in our eating area. We do have another computer in the office, it is not used for internet. It is for making movies, recording music, etc.
Put an internet filter on your computers, even the ones that are not supposed to be used for internet. I know my boys may go on the internet in the office. So it has net nanny set up to the highest level of restriction.
I have tried 3 different options. NetNanny is my favorite. Easy to use and has many different ways to differentiate levels of “safety”. So my 16 year old has little limits, but I am able to see where he goes so I can check on his use. My 8 year old has very strong limits, preventing him from accidently being exposed to pornography.
Use the filters on your TV. You can set your TV to require a password to watch things over a certain TV rating.
If you have Netflix/Vudu, etc. Research how do to limits on those. We have it set up so you cannot watch or order rated R or higher movies.
Video Games –
I will admit, we don’t really play video games in our house. We have a Wii and limited games. The boys play maybe 2 times a month. I think this is one reason my boys are so well rounded and get good grades and know how to interact nicely with other people.
Be wise about the video games you let your children play. Think about what it is you want them to learn from these games and the amount of time you think is reasonable.
I don’t really know much about parental controls with video games, but definitely worth finding out if you play them.
Cell Phones –
I will look at this a strictly a phone/texting thing, though more and more kids have smart phones, see this post for handheld digital devices . If your child has a smart phone you will need to take a 2 prong approach!
Have a place in the kitchen where they are plugged in nightly. Have a set time – 9PM or bedtime. But it is plugged in every night. There are kids that are texting at 2AM. This is not good for sleep, even if your kids are not the instigator, their friends may be texting them at that time and waking them up. So phones go to bed too.
No Data: I have their phones set up on our ATT account that makes it so they can not get any data. I had to call and get this set up. The first person I talked to didn’t know what I was talking about. So you may have to figure this out.
This means my boys can not get or send pictures. Hallelujah! People send really inappropriate pictures to each other and this prevents this from happening.
It also means they can’t get group texts, which is sort of a bummer, but worth preventing the picture issue. (though they can see plenty of inappropriate pictures on instagram and google search)
Is it too late?
What if your kids are older and you haven’t set up limitations like this? We learn as we live. I have had to go back and make changes to things. My kids have had pretty positive reactions.