Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Parental Divide -- between parents

We had an "incident" yesterday that was pointed. Pointed back at us!

Our house rules were intentionally simple. We were trying to build trust with our kids, ages 10-14, so didn't have digital barriers any more for about 6 months. The ground rules were you must talk to one of your parents before going to a new website.

Two challenges in this setup:
-- Both parents need to be at the same level of attentiveness, follow through, and online knowledge
-- The system needs to be actively supervised

Additional challenge -- I travel a lot and am not home many evenings.

So...I called my son and husband to my children's computer yesterday. It is in one of the bedrooms, but with the door always left open...but on another floor.

My son had been doing things that were ok if monitored and discussed ahead of time. But (a) he hadn't and (b) my husband had not been paying attention when he is home and I'm not. So my son had gotten a Yahoo email account that we didn't know about, used it to be IM'ing with friends, had signed up for YouTube, had created an account to set up his own website on Jimdo (but hadn't yet), and had left his email address with dozens of "free" online gaming sites that were sending him lots of email, offers, etc. And surprise, surprise was getting a bunch of SPAM.

He understood that he did what he was not supposed to do. He knows how to clear his History and had not done so, which he used a bit in his defense. It has me rethinking filters, but that doesn't face the fact that he needs to build trust with us...and he is at friends' houses a lot.

But it did get the heavy discussion going between my husband and me. As he lamented "why should he have to spend the time to watch our children's online behavior?" And he hadn't been noticing or checking at all. So when I'm home, the kids know to do what they are supposed to do and when only dad is home, they know he won't be around to check.

So do I need to design my family's Internet world around my husband's lack of participation?

Do other families have issues of very different perspectives on use of the Internet between parents? How do they get a central POV? Is it as good as the least experienced/interested parent?

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